Feature: Defense POW/MIA Accounting AgencySeptember 17, 2021
The DPAA works to provide full accounting of Sailors and Marines lost during air raid on Peal Harbor on December 7, 1941
To honor POW/MIA Recognition Day, we are proud to highlight the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, whose mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s Honolulu office leads the project of identifying and returning home the Sailors and Marines who are still unaccounted for from the fateful attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 to their families.
Mission to achieve fullest accounting of the nation's POWs and MIA
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is the largest forensic anthropological laboratory in the world, combining history, science, and technology to provide the fullest possible accounting of the nation’s missing personnel for their families and the nation. DPAA has three locations: Washington, D.C., Nebraska, and Honolulu, Hawaii.
Military members, specialized DoD civilians, and volunteers work in countries all over the world to help account for the over 81,000 American personnel still missing from previous conflicts. Experts in varying disciplines of history and science come together to research, recover, identify, and return POW/MIA personnel to their families and our nation.
USS Oklahoma Project
In 2015, the USS Oklahoma Project was created by the DPAA to account for and return all service personnel from the ship with their families. In 2003 there were still 394 of the 429 Sailors and Marines unaccounted for from the sinking of USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941.
The project completed mitochondrial DNA sequencing of thousands of DNA samples, which were used to analyze the remains, and provide an identity. Family members and relatives of lost servicemen and women played an essential role in the identification process, helping to match the identity of the Sailor or Marine to their families.
Since 2003, through this project, 338 of the 394 individuals unaccounted for have been identified. The project has been able to identify 86% of unknowns from USS Oklahoma, and expects to achieve 90% accountability by the end of the project.
This project represents the first successful completion of a project of this scale, complexity, and scope for the DPAA and the nation. “Even more remarkable than the collective success of this project are all the families who were able to receive the remains of their loved one, whose last measure of devotion was made aboard the Oklahoma,” said Kelly McKeague, DPAA’s Director.
USS Oklahoma Honorable Carry
The remains of the Sailors and Marines who were unable to be identified by the USS Oklahoma Project were returned to Hawaii on June 24, 2021 for an honorable carry as the project comes close to completion. The remains were returned to Pearl Harbor from the DPAA Laboratory in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska where the identification process occurred. DPAA hosted a ceremony to honor the Sailors and Marines who were aboard the USS Oklahoma on that fateful day and celebrate the success of the project, identifying and returning 86% of those unaccounted for to their families after almost 80 years.
The Second Greatest Loss of Life on December 7,1941
At 7:58 a.m. the message “AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR X THIS IS NO DRILL ” was sent from the base as Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor. Just 12 minutes after the first torpedo hit Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 the USS Oklahoma capsized, trapping 429 Sailors and Marines as it went down. During the attack Japanese Kate and Zero bomber’s main targets were American warships such as the USS Oklahoma and USS Arizona, but they also targeted the hangars and aircraft located on Ford Island.
The USS Oklahoma Memorial on Historic Ford Island
Although the battleship no longer remains at Pearl Harbor, the USS Oklahoma Memorial on historic Ford Island offers a place to honor and recognize their sacrifice. Along with the memorial, historic Ford Island offers many historic sites from that fateful day. Evidence of the attack can be seen, honored, and recognized at the hidden gems of history throughout Pearl Harbor.
The DPAA continues its work toward full accounting of MIA/POW personnel from the attack on Pearl Harbor and around the world, for their families and for the nation.