Sailor Killed In Pearl Harbor Attacks Identified Decades Later

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The body of a sailor killed during the Pearl Harbor attacks was identified early September, decades after his death, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Navy Fireman 3rd Class William L. Barnett, 21, was on the USS West Virginia, a battleship secured at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, according to a Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) press release.

USS West Virginia was struck by multiple Japanese torpedoes early Sunday morning, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). Lieutenant Commander John S. Harper took counter-flooding measures which allowed the ship to avoid capsizing, according to the National WW2 Museum.

One hundred and six crewmen were killed during the attack on the USS West Virginia, one of whom was Barnett, the press release said. 

While taking measures to salvage the ship, the remains of 66 crewmen were recovered, according to the DPAA. If the remains were unidentifiable, they were buried as “unknowns” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, according to the press release. (RELATED: US Marks 79th Anniversary Of Attack On Pearl Harbor With Live Virtual Ceremony During Pandemic)

The DPAA exhumed 35 bodies with ties to the USS West Virginia from June through Oct. 2017, the DPAA reported. Using dental and anthropological analysis, the DPAA was able to identify Barnett Sept. 14, according to the DPAA.

Barnett will be laid to rest in his hometown May 29, 2021, the DPAA’s press release said.