USS Oklahoma Sailor from World War II to be buried today at Punchbowl

The USS Oklahoma Memorial is located on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. U.S. Navy photo

The USS Oklahoma Memorial is located on Ford Island, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. U.S. Navy photo

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency Public Affairs

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that the remains of a U.S. serviceman from World War II have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. Navy Ensign Lewis S. Stockdale, 27, of Anaconda, Montana, will be buried today at 1 p.m. at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Stock-dale was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma suffered multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in 429 casualties, including Stock-dale.

USS Stockddale (DE399) was named in his honor.

Stockdale’s niece, Trudy Ritz, is among the family members planning to attend the ceremony.

“I’m honored and excited,” she said. “I’ve looked forward to this day since I first learned my uncle was taken away from me as a child. I think the whole family feels the same way.”

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,” including Stock-dale.

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.

To identify Stockdale’s remains, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Stock-dale’s records.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.

For more information, visit the DPAA website at or call (703) 699-1420.

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