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Seven decades after Pearl Harbor, DNA testing used to identify remains

December 8th, 2015

Seventy-four years later, the navy is using DNA testing in hopes of at last returning the men’s remains to their families.

The bones of the unidentified crew members have been exhumed from a military cemetery in Hawaii and transported to a laboratory in Nebraska.

The righting and refloating of the capsized battleship USS Oklahoma was the largest of the Pearl Harbor salvage jobs

Seven men have been identified thus far, with 381 members of the Oklahoma’s crew remaining unidentified.

“We need to get these guys home,” Carrie Brown, the anthropologist in charge of the identification initiative told the Washington Post. “They’ve been not home for too long.”

Ms Brown said that while some people may wonder “who’s even alive” to remember the sinking of the Oklahoma, for some people it remains a seminal moment “in their family history”.

Second World War: The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec 7, 1941. The ship sank with more than 80 per cent of its 1,500-man crew, including Rear Admiral Is

One family from Wisconsin lost three brothers on board the Oklahoma.

Franklin Roosevelt, then-US president, declared December 7, 1941 “a date which will live in infamy”.

More than seven decades later, Pearl Harbor Day commemorations took place across the US on Monday to honour the 2,403 Americans killed in the surprise attack that prompted US entry into the Second World War.

The day after the Japanese attack in Hawaii's Pearl Harbor, young men line up to volunteer at a Navy Recruiting station in Boston, Massachusetts

Of those killed, 1,177 were on board the USS Arizona, which exploded during the attack. They remain trapped inside to this day.

Joseph Langdell, the last surviving officer from the Arizona, died in February at the age of 100. His ashes were interred in the ship during a ceremony on Monday.


World War Two

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