OMAHA, Nebraska –
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced the return of remains of Sailors and Marines lost aboard the USS Oklahoma being returned to Hawaii has been postponed from the previous date of June 2. Once the Honorable Carry ceremonies have been rescheduled, we will post the new dates and times here.
Ceremonies in Nebraska and Hawaii will honor these Sailors and Marines killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and who were unable to be identified.
The remains will be turned over to the Navy for burial at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP) in Honolulu on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The identification of 338 individuals, to date, from the USS Oklahoma represents the first successful completion of a project of such scope and complexity. Nearly 86% of unknowns from the USS Oklahoma have been individually identified and it is expected that 90% will be identified by the end of the project, surpassing the original projected estimate of 80%.
“Even more remarkable than the collective success of this project are all the families who were able to receive the remains of their loved one, whose last measure of devotion was made aboard the Oklahoma,” said Kelly McKeague, DPAA’s Director.
The battleship USS Oklahoma was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen. From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff confirmed the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the NMCP. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable.
A single casket of USS Oklahoma Unknowns was exhumed in 2003 and showed evidence of extensive commingling. The remaining USS Oklahoma Unknowns were later exhumed between June and November 2015 so all of the remains could be analyzed at one time. Since then, DPAA anthropologists and odontologists, located primarily at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, have worked to sort and analyze over 13,000 bones and associate them to missing Sailors and Marines. Genealogists from the Navy and Marine Corps Casualty Offices conducted research to find family members so that DNA testing could be conducted by scientists at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, all of which were critical components in the identification process.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or https://www.linkedin.com/company/defense-pow-mia-accounting-agency.