The U.S. Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is on a mission to identify the fallen American who lost their lives on the USS Oklahoma, the ship that was attacked by Japanese aircrafts in Pearl Harbor, 74 years ago.
Reports from the National Archive reveal that the attack, which consisted in about nine torpedoes against the ship, and caused the death of 429 sailors and Marines. Overall, the assault to Pearl Harbor claimed the life of 2,400 members from the U.S. military and was the trigger for the country’s participation in World War II.
“The secretary of defense and I will work tirelessly to ensure your loved one’s remains will be recovered, identified, and returned to you as expeditiously as possible, and we will do so with dignity, respect, and care. While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible,” said Bob Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
The recovery process is not an easy one, though. The wreckage of the USS Oklahoma was recovered in 1943, when the bodies were already reduced to skeletons after about two years deteriorating under the sea. A year later, the bodies were buried in Hawaii.
Later during the decade, the military staff made futile attempts to identify the remains, however, identification by dental records wasn’t enough to complete the task, and the bodies were finally declared as unidentifiable and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in 1950.
From the start of the XXI century, several efforts have been made to identify the rest of the fallen sailors who couldn’t be determined earlier — it is believed 388 of them are yet to be cataloged.
The Department of Defense reported that the rest of the sailors’ remains were properly prepared and sent for analysis to the DPAA — which would conduct DNA tests and other evaluations — after the ceremony at Honolulu’s National Memorial Cemetery ended.
Seven remains have already been identified, but authorities will be notifying the families of the deceased before bringing it to the public eye. All the sailors identified by the DPAA will be granted with a proper military burial.
Source: ABC News