Pearl Har­bor sailors’ re­mains back home after 77 years

The Charlotte Observer - - Front Page - As­so­ci­ated Press

More than 75 years after nearly 2,400 mem­bers of the U.S. mil­i­tary were killed in the Ja­panese at­tack at Pearl Har­bor, some who died on Dec. 7, 1941, are fi­nally be­ing laid to rest in ceme­ter­ies across the United States.

In 2015, the De­fense POW/MIA Ac­count­ing Agency ex­humed nearly 400 sets of re­mains from the Na­tional Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery of the Pa­cific in Hawaii after de­ter­min­ing ad­vances in foren­sic science and ge­nealog­i­cal help from fam­i­lies could make iden­ti­fi­ca­tions pos­si­ble. They were all on the USS Ok­la­homa, which cap­sized dur­ing the at­tack, and had been buried as un­knowns after the war.

Al­to­gether, 429 sailors and Marines on the Ok­la­homa were killed. Only 35 were iden­ti­fied in the years im­me­di­ately after the at­tack. The Ok­la­homa’s ca­su­al­ties were sec­ond only to the USS Ari­zona, which lost 1,177 men.

The agency has iden­ti­fied about 190 sailors and Marines from the Ok­la­homa who were pre­vi­ously uniden­ti­fied.

Slowly, the re­mains are be­ing sent to be re­buried in places like Traer, Iowa, and On­tanogan, Michi­gan.

Here’s a look at some of those who have ei­ther al­ready been re­buried this year or who will be in­terred on Fri­day: Durell Wade: Wade was born in 1917 in the Hardin Town com­mu­nity of ru­ral Cal­houn County, Mis­sis­sippi. He en­listed in the Navy in 1936 and in 1940 re-en­listed for an­other two-year tour.

His burial in his home state was orig­i­nally planned for a week­end, when it would be more con­ve­nient for peo­ple to at­tend. But be­cause of sched­ul­ing con­flicts at the North Mis­sis­sippi Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial Ceme­tery, his fam­ily de­cided the 77th an­niver­sary of the at­tack would be an ap­pro­pri­ate date, even if some peo­ple have to take time off, said his nephew, Dr. Lawrence Wade.

He was one of the sailor’s rel­a­tives who pro­vided DNA to help iden­tify him.

“My mid­dle name is his name, Durell. My grand­son has that name also,” said the 75-year-old re­tired psy­chi­a­trist from Ba­ton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’d gone through my life not re­ally know­ing any­thing about him, other than I car­ried his name and he was killed at Pearl Har­bor. Once this DNA process came along and made it pos­si­ble to iden­tify his re­mains, it just made him much more of a real per­son to me.”

Wade’s nephew has been plan­ning his fu­neral. A gospel singer will sing the na­tional an­them. Bag­pipes will play. Pi­lots will con­duct a fly­over. Robert Kim­ball Holmes: The re­mains of Ma­rine Pfc. Robert Kim­ball Holmes were in­terred in Au­gust in his home­town of Salt Lake City. Leon Arickx: More than 76 years after he died, the re­mains of Navy Sea­man 1st Class Leon Arickx were buried on a bril­liant sum­mer day at a small ceme­tery amid the corn­fields of north­ern Iowa.

Hun­dreds gath­ered in July for Arickx’s grave­side ser­vice at Sa­cred Heart Ceme­tery out­side Osage, Iowa, in a sparsely pop­u­lated farm­ing re­gion just south of Min­nesota, where Arickx grew up. Among them was his niece, Jan­ice Schon­rock, who was a baby when Arickx died.

“My fam­ily talked about him all that time,” said Schon­rock, 77. “I felt I knew him be­cause every­one talked about him.”

Al­though they didn’t have Arickx’s re­mains, his fam­ily held a me­mo­rial ser­vice and placed a grave marker at Sa­cred Heart Ceme­tery in 1942. When his re­mains were fi­nally re­turned, they were buried at a site not far away.

Schon­rock said her fam­ily ap­pre­ci­ates the work it took to iden­tify her un­cle, but she be­lieves it’s es­sen­tial to iden­tify as many ser­vice mem­bers as pos­si­ble.

“No one should be left be­hind,” she said.

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