USS Oklahoma Crew Being Identified And Reburied

USS Oklahoma Crew Being Identified And Reburied

USS Oklahoma Crew Being Identified And Reburied

The 77th anniversary of Pearl Harbor is upon us, and we are losing those who were there at a rapid rate. However, those who lost loved ones on that day still remember. Now, some of them who lost their loved one on the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, are getting closure.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, many sailors and Marines were simply unidentifiable by the forensics of the time. The USS Oklahoma lost 429 men that day – the only ship that lost more was the USS Arizona.

But while the Arizona sunk and took most of her crew into the harbor with her, the Oklahoma was raised for salvage and the bodies recovered. Many of her crew were buried in mass graves in Hawaii. Now, thanks to advances in DNA forensics that would have been unimaginable at the time, those who were laid to rest unknown with their brothers are being returned to their families.

In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed nearly 400 sets of remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii after determining that advances in forensic science and genealogical help from families could make identifications possible. They were all on the USS Oklahoma, which capsized during the attack, and had been buried as unknowns after the war.

Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines on board the Oklahoma were killed. Only 35 were identified in the years immediately after the attack. The Oklahoma’s casualties were second only to the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 men.

As of earlier this month, the agency has identified 186 sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma that were previously unidentified.

Slowly, the remains are being sent to be reburied in places like Traer, Iowa, and Ontanogan, Michigan.

While all the names of those who were lost on the USS Oklahoma are listed on her memorial, located on Ford Island on Oahu, it’s not the same as being able to bury a loved one.

The rails of the USS Oklahoma memorial – one for each sailor and Marine. (personal photo taken July 3, 2016, by Deanna Fisher)

For those who have waited all these years to finally know where their family member has been all this time, and to be able to lay them to rest in a manner of their choosing, we honor and respect their sacrifice and your unflagging devotion and patience.

To the sailors and Marines who perished 77 years ago today, may you rest in honored glory with the gratitude of a nation that still remembers you.

Featured image: USS Oklahoma memorial, Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaii (personal photo taken July 3, 2016, by Deanna Fisher)

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  • GWB says:

    may you rest in honored glory with the gratitude of a nation
    And may you remind us always that preparation for war is ALWAYS the best way to keep the peace.

  • “Home, home, home from the sea
    Angels of mercy, answer our plea
    And carry us home, home, home from the sea
    Carry us safely home from the sea.”
    (Lyrics by Celtic Thunder. Not perfectly appropriate, but I had heard it fairly recently. These men ARE finally coming home from the sea, thanks to the Angels of Mercy that are doing the hard work of identifying them.)

    Side note: I heard this morning that this is the FIRST year in which not a single survivor of the USS Arizona will be able to attend the memorial service. They may not be there in body, but I am sure that they are all there in spirit.

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