US to ex­hume re­mains from Pearl Har­bor

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The U.S. mil­i­tary plans to ex­hume the re­mains of 388 Amer­i­cans killed in the 1941 Ja­panese attack on Pearl Har­bor, in an un­prece­dented bid to iden­tify troops us­ing DNA testing, of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

The ef­fort will fo­cus on sailors and Marines from the USS Ok­la­homa who could never be iden­ti­fied, more than seven decades since the sur­prise attack that launched Amer­ica’s en­try into World War II.

The ship sank when it was it struck by Ja­panese tor­pe­does in the Pearl Har­bor attack, killing 429 sailors and Marines. Re­mains of most of the crew could not be iden­ti­fied and were even­tu­ally in­terred at the Na­tional Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery of the Pa­cific in Honolulu.

Un­der the Pen­tagon’s de­ci­sion, the re­mains of 388 uniden­ti­fied crew from the Ok­la­homa will be dis­in­terred from the ceme­tery and trans­ferred to a De­fense Depart­ment lab­o­ra­tory in Hawaii.

The lab, run by the De­fense POW/MIA Ac­count­ing Agency, will an­a­lyze the re­mains us­ing foren­sic tech­niques, “to in­clude DNA testing,” the Pen­tagon said in a state­ment.

“Re­cent ad­vances in foren­sic science and tech­nol­ogy, as well as fam­ily mem­ber as­sis­tance in pro­vid­ing ge­nealog­i­cal in­for­ma­tion, have now made it pos­si­ble to make in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­fi­ca­tions for many ser­vice mem­bers long-bur- ied in graves marked ‘un­known,’” Deputy De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert Work said in a memo.

The De­fense Depart­ment “re­mains com­mit­ted to ful­fill­ing its sa­cred obli­ga­tion to achieve the fullest pos­si­ble ac­count­ing for U.S. per­son­nel lost in past con­flicts,” Work said.

Troops who are pos­i­tively iden­ti­fied will be given buri­als with full mil­i­tary hon­ors.

“While not all fam­i­lies will re­ceive an in­di­vid­ual iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, we will strive to pro­vide res­o­lu­tion to as many fam­i­lies as pos­si­ble,” Work said.

The Pen­tagon’s num­ber two rank­ing of­fi­cial also ap­proved a new pol­icy that could open the way to the ex­huma­tion of uniden- ti­fied troops at other mil­i­tary ceme­ter­ies.

To per­mit ex­hum­ing re­mains, re­search must in­di­cate that at least 60 per­cent of the troops to be dis­in­terred can be in­di­vid­u­ally iden­ti­fied, Work said. And Pen­tagon ex­perts will need to col­lect rel­e­vant fam­ily ref­er­ence sam­ples for com­par­i­son with any DNA taken from re­mains as well as med­i­cal and den­tal records.

Tues­day’s an­nounce­ment re­flects the U.S. mil­i­tary’s elab­o­rate and costly com­mit­ment to try­ing to find and iden­tify those still miss­ing from con­flicts dat­ing back to World War II. The Pen­tagon sends foren­sic teams ev­ery year to re­mote crash sites in the Pa­cific to look for the re­mains of air crews.


In this May 24, 1943 file photo, the deck of the cap­sized bat­tle­ship USS Ok­la­homa breaks wa­ter at Pearl Har­bor in Honolulu, Hawaii.

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