USS Oklahoma sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack is buried at Arlington
By NOAH R. BOMBARD | MassLive.com, Springfield, Mass. (Tribune News Service) | Published: December 7, 2017
Navy Radioman 3rd Class Howard W. Bean was 27 years old and serving on the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941. The day was to live in infamy, but it would take another 76 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor for Bean to be laid to rest.
A native of Everett, Bean is one of the latest servicemen whose remains have finally been identified using DNA analysis.
Bean was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 6, one day shy of the anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
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.
But 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.
Bean is one of the latest to be identified and either returned home for burial or buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Navy Yeoman 3rd Class Edmund T. Ryan, 21, of Wilbraham was buried at Arlington on Aug. 2.
There are 72,975 servicemen and women still unaccounted for from World War II, the POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports. Approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable.