Remains of Mass. sailor killed during Pearl Harbor attack have been identified

Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Roman W. Sadlowski

By NOAH R. BOMBARD | MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. | Published: March 22, 2019

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — He died while serving on the USS Oklahoma along with 429 sailors and marines on Dec. 7, 1941. And for more than 70 years, the body of Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Roman W. Sadlowski remained unidentified.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Friday that Sadlowski’s body has finally been accounted for.

Sadlowski was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor when the ship was attacked by the Japanese in what President Franklin D. Roosevelt would deem “a date which will live in infamy.”

At only 21, Sadlowski was one of two Pittsfield residents to die in the attack, the other being Edward Burns.

The struggle to identify the remains of those killed in the attack has been a long-fought one.

Navy personnel spent three years after the attack on Pearl Harbor recovering the remains of the deceased crew of the USS Oklahoma. The bodies were interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu cemeteries.

The first subsequent attempt to identify remains happened in 1947, when members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains from the two cemeteries and transferred them to a laboratory for identification, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Only 35 servicemen were able to be identified. The rest of the remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. In 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable.

That changed in 2015.

On June 15, 2015, on the order of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, members of the Department of POW/MIA Accounting Agency began exhuming remains for analysis.

To identify Sadlowski’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.

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