The remains of nearly 400 US servicemen who died on the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor will be exhumed, identified and given individual burials.
The USS Oklahoma was torpedoed in the surprise attack on December 7, 1941. The attack claimed the lives of over 2,400 servicemen.
US Department of Defense said the identification efforts would be aided by advance forensic science and technology. Deputy Secretary of Defence Robert Work said: “While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible.”
Only 35 members of the 429 who were killed onboard the USS Oklahoma have been identified so far – the remains of the others were retrieved during the salvage of the warship from 1942 to 1944. Those remains were buried in caskets and marked as “unknown” at a national cemetery in Hawaii.
Tom Gray told the Associated Press news agency that his family had waited for more than 70 years to give a proper burial to the remains of his cousin, Edwin Hopkins, who was killed aboard the Oklahoma.
“While it was an honor for his cousin to have been buried at a national cemetery”, he said, “I also think a boy gives up his life at 19 years old and ends up in a comingled grave marked as ‘unknown’ isn’t proper.”