WESSON, Miss. (WJTV) — The remains of a U.S. serviceman from World War II have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
The Department of Defense said Navy Fireman 1st Class Jim H. Johnston will be buried in his hometown on December 7, which is the 75th anniversary of his death.
On Dec. 7, 1941, the 23-year-old was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft.
The USS Oklahoma received multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to capsize. Officials said 429 crewmen died from the attack on the ship, including Johnston. He was unaccounted for until now.
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.
The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time.
The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains 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 non-recoverable, including Johnston.
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the NMCP for analysis.
To identify Johnston’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched two nephews, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Johnston’s records.
We’re told that of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 73,117 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.