The remains of 355 sailors and Marines from the U.S.S. Oklahoma were identified utilizing DNA and dental records, but 33 unit members could not be.
Dec. 7, 2021, 5:40 a.m. ET
The hearse took six hours to implicit the astir 200-mile travel halfway crossed Nebraska this year, traveling down roads lined with occurrence trucks and radical waving American flags for a homecoming that had been deferred for 8 decades.
Inside were the remains of Louis Tushla, a fireman archetypal people successful the U.S. Navy who had been stationed successful the main motor country of the U.S.S. Oklahoma erstwhile it sank during the Japanese onslaught connected Pearl Harbor connected Dec. 7, 1941.
Using DNA taken from a nephew, the Pentagon was yet capable to identify the remains of the 25-year-old sailor successful 2020. They were released successful July from a Defense Department laboratory astatine Offutt Air Force Base adjacent Omaha and taken to Atkinson, successful northbound cardinal Nebraska, wherever Mr. Tushla was buried alongside his parents.
“It brings a consciousness of a realization of the large sacrifice that they made,” Msgr. James Gilg, 80, whose begetter was a archetypal relative of Mr. Tushla, said successful an interrogation connected Monday.
As the federation observes the 80th day of the onslaught that drew the United States into World War II, the subject said this week that a six-year task to place those killed connected the Oklahoma had matched quality remains from the vessel with the names of 355 sailors and Marines.
Thirty-three of the ship’s unit members could not beryllium identified by comparing remains with DNA samples from relatives oregon dental records arsenic portion of the project, which began successful 2015 and which officials said had ended.
According to the Pentagon, those remains volition beryllium reinterred connected Tuesday astatine the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific successful Hawaii, a tract nicknamed the Punchbowl. In total, 429 unit members from the Oklahoma died aft respective torpedoes struck the ship. Nearly 3 times arsenic galore work members died aboard the U.S.S. Arizona, which suffered the heaviest losses successful the attack.
Civilian researchers and subject commanders discussed the project’s findings during a quality league connected Monday astatine Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam successful Hawaii. They said that 13,000 bones had been analyzed and inventoried aft the subject received support to disinter them successful 2015.
“It’s our work arsenic a federation to bring these sailors and Marines location to their families,” Capt. Robert McMahon, the caput of the Navy’s casualty office, said during the conference. “We’ve sent them disconnected to war.”
The unprovoked onslaught connected Pearl Harbor killed much than 2,400 Americans and struck a stroke to the Navy’s Pacific fleet, which had been based astatine Pearl Harbor. It hastened the United States’ introduction into World War II, with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt calling Dec. 7 a day that “will unrecorded successful infamy.” The adjacent day, Congress declared warfare against Japan.
For decades, efforts to place the remains of sailors and Marines entombed successful the sunken ships were hampered by mislaid records and the trouble of accessing their watery graves, which immoderate household members had said should not beryllium disturbed.
But advances successful familial investigating gave families and the subject caller optimism. In summation to the 355 sailors and Marines who were identified during the project, six names were matched from 2007 to 2010, researchers said.
“Three 100 and sixty-one families present person answers,” Kelly McKeague, the manager of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency for the Pentagon, said during the quality conference.
Carrie LeGarde, the pb anthropologist for the project, said that immoderate of the aesculapian and dental records for the unit members were mislaid successful the ship.
“For immoderate of these work members, it tin beryllium hard to find a surviving biologic relative,” Ms. LeGarde said.
The remains of astir 82,000 U.S. work members from respective wars inactive person not been identified, the immense bulk of whom are from World War II, according to the Pentagon. Separate efforts to place unit members of the U.S.S. California and the U.S.S. West Virginia, which were besides attacked by the Japanese astatine Pearl Harbor, are continuing, subject officials said.
Even though respective generations person passed since Pearl Harbor, Ms. LeGarde said, immoderate of the Oklahoma’s unit members person surviving sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews who are often speedy to stock stories astir their relatives.
“The enactment that we bash is for them,” she said.
Timothy McMahon, the manager of DNA Operations for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, said connected Monday that those who worked connected the task were each fixed a cardinal concatenation with the photograph of a work subordinate whose remains had not been identified.
About 100 of the Oklahoma’s unit members who were identified inactive person not been reinterred, according to the military, which attributed immoderate of those delays to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Tushla’s household members received notification successful 2020 that his remains had been identified. That came successful clip for them to program a ceremonial successful conjunction with an extended household reunion that was held this summer.
His relatives prepared an obituary, which said that helium had worked connected a workplace earlier joining the Navy. Mr. Tushla’s archetypal enlistment was rejected due to the fact that a tonsil infection; helium was yet accepted to the Navy aft having a tonsillectomy.
In a missive to the Navy connected Jan. 20, 1942, his parents pleaded for updates, 1 period aft receiving a telegram that their lad was missing successful action.
“We are terribly disquieted and would admit it precise overmuch if you could assistance america successful anyway,” his parents wrote, according to the obituary. “Could you archer america if the vessel Oklahoma has been raised arsenic yet, arsenic we thought each on that possibly helium went down with the ship.”
Monsignor Gilg, whose begetter was a archetypal relative of Mr. Tushla, said that helium had often heard stories astir his relative’s sacrifice portion increasing up.
“It gives you a transportation to satellite past successful a mode that you ne'er had before,” helium said of the identification.
Jack Begg contributed research.