David J. Riley

David J. Riley (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

(Tribune News Service) — Federal authorities on Tuesday identified the remains of a sailor killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor as 25-year-old David J. Riley, of Juda — the third such identification of a World War II veteran from Wisconsin this month.

Riley was a seaman second class assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was attacked by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941. The ship sustained multiple torpedo hits and 429 crewmen, including Riley, were killed.

The United States declared war on Japan the next day and entered the broader conflict soon thereafter.

Riley's identification comes after the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, also identified the remains of 1st Lt. Roy C. Harms, 26, of Grafton, and Pfc. William L. "Sonny" Simon, 20, of Middleton.

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Navy personnel spent nearly three years recovering the remains of the deceased Oklahoma crew, according to the Defense Department. They were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu cemeteries in Hawaii.

Three years later, the remains were transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, but laboratory staff were only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men, and the unidentified remains were interred in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as nonrecoverable, including Riley, according to the Defense Department.

But the remains were exhumed again in 2015, and in Riley's case, scientists used dental, anthropological and DNA analysis to identify him.

Riley's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Riley will be buried on May 27 in Juda.

(c)2022 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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