HONOLULU — The military has identified 100 sailors and Marines killed when the USS Oklahoma capsized during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 76 years ago, officials said Friday.
The milestone comes two years after the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency dug up nearly 400 sets of remains from a Hawaii cemetery.
Officials exhumed the bodies after determining that advances in forensic science and genealogical help from families could make identifications possible. The buried Marines and sailors have been classified as missing since World War II.
The agency has said it expects to identify about 80 percent of the battleship’s missing crew members by 2020.
The most recent identification came last week, the agency said in a news release. The family hasn’t been notified yet, however, so his name hasn’t been released.
Many of those identified have been buried in their hometowns. Others were reinterred at the National Memorial Cemetery in the Pacific, which is located in an extinct volcanic crater in Honolulu.
Navy Radioman 3rd Class Howard W. Bean of Everett, Massachusetts, was buried Wednesday in Arlington National Cemetery. Bean was 27 when he was killed.
Altogether, 429 people on board the battleship were killed in the Dec. 7, 1941, bombing that plunged the United States into World War II. Only 35 were identified in the years immediately after.
Many remains buried in Hawaii were comingled with other sailors and Marines. The 388 men disinterred in 2015 were buried in 46 plots.
The agency has been studying dental records and DNA to make identifications. It sent exhumed remains to a lab at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for analysis. The lab sent some 5,000 samples to a military DNA lab.
The agency has family DNA reference samples for 85 percent of the unaccounted for Marines and sailors.
More than 2,400 sailors, Marines and soldiers were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Oklahoma’s casualties were second only to the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 men. The Arizona is still resting at the bottom of the harbor with most of its crew entombed on board.
Also, two men are being posthumously awarded medals for helping save the lives of their fellow sailors during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Navy said Monday the late Lt. j.g. Aloysious Schmitt is being recognized for sacrificing his own life while helping his shipmates escape their capsizing battleship. The USS Oklahoma chaplain is being awarded the Silver Star.
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Joseph George of the USS Vestal is being awarded the Bronze Star for saving the lives of several sailors from the USS Arizona. George tossed the sailors a rope they used to crawl to safety as flames engulfed the Arizona.
George died in 1996.