HONOLULU — More than 75 years after nearly 2,400 members of the U.S. military were killed in the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, some who died on Dec. 7, 1941, are finally being laid to rest in cemeteries across the United States.
In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed nearly 400 sets of remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii after determining advances in forensic science and genealogical help from families could make identifications possible. They were all on the USS Oklahoma, which capsized during the attack, and had been buried as unknowns after the war.
Altogether, 429 sailors and Marines on the Oklahoma were killed. Only 35 were identified in the years immediately after the attack. The Oklahoma’s casualties were second only to the USS Arizona, which lost 1,177 men.
As of earlier this month, the agency has identified 186 sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma who were previously unidentified.
Slowly, the remains are being sent to be reburied.
Renate Starck has been pondering the eulogy she’ll give at the funeral for her uncle, Navy Seaman 1st Class William Bruesewitz, on Friday.
“We always have thought of him on Dec. 7,” she said. “He’s already such a big part of that history.”
Bruesewitz, of Appleton, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C. “It’s a real blessing to have him returning and we’ve chosen Arlington because we feel he’s a hero and belongs there,” Starck said.
About 50 family members from Wisconsin, Florida, Arkansas and Maryland will attend.
“We were too young to know him but we’re old enough that we felt his loss,” Starck said. “We know some stories. There’s this stoicness about things from that time that kept people from talking about things that hurt.”