Two sailors killed in Pearl Harbor attack identified 80 years later

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Two men who were killed in the Pearl Harbor attacks have been identified more than 80 years after their deaths, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on Tuesday. The two sailors were aboard the USS Oklahoma, which was docked in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked.

They were identified as Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class George Gilbert, 20, of Indianapolis, and Navy Seaman 1st Class Wilbur F. Newton, 29, of San Leandro, Calif. Gilbert was listed as counted on August 24, 2020 and Newton was counted on October 12, 2021, according to the DPAA.

A photo of Newton was provided by the DPAA. No photos of Gilbert have been indexed.

The DPAA said 429 crew members were killed, including Gilbert and Newton, when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed by Japanese forces and subsequently capsized. The remains of the crew members were buried in Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries in Hawaii without being identified.

In September 1947, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) removed the remains and sent them to a laboratory for identification. Only 35 crew members have been identified, the DPAA said. The unidentified remains were returned to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, known as Punchbowl, and identified as “unsalvageable” by the military.

In 2015, nearly 70 years later, DPAA staff exhumed these remains for further analysis. They were able to identify Gilbert and Newton using dental and anthropological scans, as well as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, according to the DPAA.

Gilbert will be buried June 6, 2022 at the Punchbowl, while Newton will be buried May 28, 2022 in Mound City, Missouri.

Their names, which are registered on the missing persons courts at the Punchbowl, will have a rosette placed next to them to show they have been identified, the DPAA said.

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