After nearly 75 years in an "unknown" grave, a Pearl Harbor hero is returned to his family.
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Unknown soldiers of WWII are getting the burials they never had. For nearly 75 years, hundreds who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor remained buried in graves marked "Unknown." Many of their parents, spouses, and children have passed away without the closure of burying them at home.
Among the casualties was United States Navy Ensign John Charles England, who served aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma, one of the first ships attacked. After surviving the first strike, Ensign England led three men to safety. The fourth time he returned to the capsizing ship, he never resurfaced. His last letter home a few weeks before the attack talked of his newborn daughter and how much he was looking forward to meeting her. England never had the chance to meet his daughter and died a week before his 21st birthday. But his granddaughter, Bethany Glenn, became interested in his story decades later. 429 men died on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, second in casualties to the U.S.S. Arizona; 388 of those men on the U.S.S. Oklahoma were "unaccounted for."
Glenn learned that her grandfather's remains, along with those of 27 other men, were partially identified in the 1940s. She became part of a group of families, led by Pearl Harbor survivor Ray Emory and Bob Valley, advocating for their return. In 2015, the Department of Defense's POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) began disinterring unknowns from the U.S.S. Oklahoma, using DNA and other records to begin positive identification. Remains are now being flown to burials arranged by the men's surviving families. John England's remains were among the first to return home and were buried with full military honors. There are more than 83,000 U.S. service members currently classified as missing in action or prisoners of war. While the DPAA states less than half are likely to be resolved, it has set a five-year goal for the identification of all of the U.S.S. Oklahoma unknowns. Those currently in military service now give DNA samples when they enlist, aiding in making the unknown soldier a pain of the past.
For more information, read "Hero Lost at Pearl Harbor Comes Home After Years in an Unknown Grave" : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/pearl-harbor-unknown-soldier-dna-identification/
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Pearl Harbor Hero Returns Home After 75 Years in an Unknown Grave | National Geographic