Defense Department agency identifies six USS Oklahoma sailors killed in Pearl Harbor attack
The government agency charged with identifying America’s war dead has identified another six sailors who died aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the identifications Wednesday of Navy Fireman 2nd Class Martin Young, 21, of Hawesville, Ky., and Navy Seaman 1st Class Maurice Spangler, 20, of Defiance, Ohio, according to the agency’s website.
On Thursday, DPAA announced it had identified Navy Seaman 2nd Class Charles Jones, 21, of Nebraska; Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class George Gooch, 22, of Missouri; Navy Fire Controlman 1st Class Bernard R. Wimmer, 28, of West Virginia; and Navy Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Shelby Treadway, 25, of Kentucky. All had been recovered from the Oklahoma.
The men were lost in the opening moments of the Pearl Harbor attack after the Nevada-class battleship took multiple torpedo hits and capsized. The Department of Defense launched an identification effort in 2015.
Young and Spangler’s announcements came on the day another of their shipmates, Navy Fireman 1st Class Rex Wise, was laid to rest beside his parents near his former home of Braman, Okla. Wise was identified on Oct. 17, 2019, according to a DPAA news release.
Young was identified Aug. 19, 2019, using dental and anthropological analysis as well as DNA testing, according to the agency. Spangler was identified on March 27 using anthropological and DNA analysis.
Young will be buried May 15 in Lewisport, Ky., according to the agency. Spangler will be interred Sept. 12 at the Punchbowl.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered flags lowered to half-staff for Young, according to a statement from Beshear’s office Thursday.
“It took a long time to get him home, but we honor the sacrifice of Navy Fireman Martin Young no less,” Beshear said in the statement. “All of our veterans and their families have earned our respect and compassion for their service.”
Both Young and Spangler’s names appear on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, according to DPAA. A rosette will now be placed next to each name, marking them as accounted for.
The agency provided no further details on Jones, Gooch, Wimmer and Treadway.
Following the Oklahoma’s sinking, 429 crewmen — 415 sailors and 14 Marines — were declared missing and presumed dead, the agency said. Between December 1941 and June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the deceased crew’s remains and buried them in temporary local cemeteries.
The remains were disinterred in September 1947 by members of the American Graves Registration Service and transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
Lab staff identified 35 men. The rest were buried as unknowns in 46 graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, or Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
Two years later, well before the age of DNA testing, a military classification board declared the men “non-recoverable,” the agency said.
Between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the Oklahoma unknowns. Since then, they have identified over 225 Oklahoma sailors, the agency said in December.