Sailor Killed In Pearl Harbor Attack Identified 82 Years Later Through DNA Testing

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A sailor from Georgia who lost his life during the attack on Pearl Harbor as a crew member of the USS Oklahoma was identified 82 years later through DNA testing.

Shipfitter 3rd Class John Donald was one of the 429 sailors of the USS Oklahoma who lost their lives in the December 7, 1941, attack and had been one 400 unidentified remains that were initially interred in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, according to the National Park Service (NPS).

In 2003, thanks to the research efforts and commitment of survivor Ray Emory, DNA and anthropological testing was done on one such casket which revealed that the remains within represented 95 individuals based on mitochondrial DNA results, the NPS stated. (RELATED: ‘You Can’t Forget It’: 101-Year-Old Survivor Returns To Pearl Harbor 80 Years After Attack)

Encouraged by the findings, the USS Oklahoma Project, started through the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, partnered with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and exhumed all of the unknown remains from the USS Oklahoma, and set to work identifying them, according to the NPS.

“Our contracted genealogists go out and identify as many of the family members as they can. They create a family tree for us, and then we start reaching out to contact whoever we can,” he said. “The remains of the soldiers who were buried were disinterred and testing was done on those remains. And then on our side we were in charge of not only tracking down family members of the sailors but then obtaining DNA samples that would be given to the lab at DPAA, and they were in charge of matching the family DNA samples with the DNA samples from the remains of the sailors,” Lt. Commander Jory Morr explained to Fox News 5.

Through their efforts all but 33 of the remains have been identified, including John Donald who is set to be reinterred in Arlington National Cemetery.

“It’s a mission that does not stop. And we are overjoyed every time there is an identification just like we are for this family. And at the end of the process we hope that the family gets the closure they were looking for and that it was handled in an honorable way,” Morr told Fox News 5.