Remains of World War II Sailors, Marine identified

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Public Affairs

The Defense POW/ MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) recently announced the remains of USS Oklahoma Sailors and a Marine from World War II who have been identified.

The Sailors are Navy Radioman 3rd Class Jack R. Goldwater, 19, of San Francisco; Navy Shop-fitter 3rd Class John M. Donald, 28, of Ball Ground, Georgia; Navy Fireman 1st Class Leonard R. Gellar, 21, of Garber, Oklahoma; Navy Reserve Musician 1st Class Henri C. Mason, 48, of Corwith, Iowa; Seaman 1st Class Walter C. Foley, 18, of Brooklyn, New York; Navy Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Marvin B. Adkins, 20, of Seattle; and Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Charles H. Harris, 22, of Pine, Louisiana. The identified Marine is Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Harry H. Gaver, Jr., 24, of Annapolis, Maryland.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the service members were assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft.

The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in 429 casualties.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,776 (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II.

The names of the service members are recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punch-bowl, along with others who are missing from World War II. A rosette will be placed next to their names indicating they have been accounted for.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call (703) 699-1420.

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Category: News