Sailor Killed at Pearl Harbor Will Finally Be Laid to Rest at Arlington After 80 Years

by Taylor Cunningham

A U.S. sailor has finally been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery after a decades-long effort to identify his remains has come to a close.

The sailor, Herbert “Bert” Jacobson, joined his fellow fallen heroes on Tuesday, Sept. 13 during a special ceremony. Jacobson was one of the 2,335 service members killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The then-21-year-old was aboard the USS Oklahoma during the surprise military strike on December 7, 1941. For over 80 years, he was considered Missing in Action.

“This has kind of been an unsolved mystery,” Jacobson’s nephew, Brad McDonald, told Fox 32. “And it gives us closure to finally know what happened to Bert, where he is, and that he’s being finally laid to rest after being listed as an unknown for so long.”

McDonald shared that Bert Jacobson grew up in Grayslake, Illinois before enlisting in the Navy. One of Jacobson’s friends told the family that the U.S. sailor was likely “asleep in his bunk and died before he even knew a war was going on.”

A 2015 Campaign Identified the Sailor and Moe Than 300 Others

Jacobson was among 400 sailors and marines who lost their lives on the USS Oklahoma, which was one of four battleships sunk by Japanese torpedoes. Two years after the attack, the U.S. government refloated the Oklahoma, recovered the remains, and buried them in a dormant volcanic crater near Pearl Harbor named the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

After World War II ended, the government reopened the graves and scientists attempted to identify the remains through dental records. But they were largely unsuccessful, and most of the remains were returned to the cemetery.

In 2003 the government made another unsuccessful attempt to identify Jacobson. Then in 2015, with new, more advanced methods available, the military launched another campaign called Project Oklahoma.

Project Oklahoma has been able to name 355 men. And their families have been able to give their heroes a proper burial. Bert Jacobson’s family got the news in 2019. But COVID delayed his funeral.

“[His mother] always had the hope the phone would ring and it would be Bert…I wish they could have seen this,” McDonald said of Jacobson’s parents.

“When Bert joined the Navy, he ran into a fella from South Dakota who was an orphan,” he added. “When they got a weekend pass, Bert took him home and the orphan met his (Bert’s) younger sister. That orphan was my dad, and Bert’s sister was my mom. So, I wouldn’t be here without Bert.”