HomeNewsRemains of WWII Sailors, Marines That Died Aboard USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor Returned for Hawaii Burial

Remains of WWII Sailors, Marines That Died Aboard USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor Returned for Hawaii Burial

by Halle Ames
(Photo Credit: South China Morning Post/ Getty Images)

The remains of World War II marines that died aboard the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor will be returned to Hawaii for a ceremonial burial.

Yesterday, we remembered the brave sailor that died on the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor. Their remains were returned to Hawaii to take part in a large honorary burial ceremony.

Military Effort to ID Sailors Aboard USS Oklahoma

According to Fox News, the Defense Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) began the difficult job of identifying the remains of individuals who were aboard the USS Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, the massive military ship sank during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, in Hawaii. The USS Oklahoma was at Ford Island at the time.

The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to capsize and resulting in the death of 429 crew members.

In the following three years, from December of 1941 until June of 1944, the DPAA recovered and buried the remains of the military personnel at the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In 1947 the Schofield Barracks in Honolulu began the task of trying to identify the sailors. They successfully pinpointed 35 men that were aboard the USS Oklahoma when torpedos hit it.

New Technology Led to Better Result

In the summer of 2015, the DPAA conducted a second, more thorough effort with newer technology. Anthropologists with the agency on the Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska began the tireless work at analyzing more than 13,000 bones to try and identify them as the missing soldiers and Marines.

Furthermore, after the agency positively distinguished the remains, they reached out to the family members for DNA. This will help aid the process through testing. The news source notes that without the DNA testing, the project would not have been nearly as successful.

So, how successful was the 2015 effort? Well, the project reveals that they have identified 388 individuals on board the USS Oklahoma to date. That is nearly 86 percent of the sailors that were on the vessel at the time of Pearl Harbor.

The DPAA hopes to identify up to 90 percent of the USS Oklahoma’s crew by the end of the project. The director of the agency, Kelly McKeague, was proud of the agency’s work and its ability to provide closure to the families of the missing Marines.

The military had to reschedule the ceremony until June 2 in Hawaii. The remains of the military personnel were delayed due to “military aircraft mission requirements”. In addition, the DPAA has rescheduled Honorable Carry ceremonies in Hawaii and Nebraska to honor the crewmen as well.

According to KHON 2, the remains will now be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The DPAA has scheduled the ceremony on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor later this year.