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USS Oklahoma sailor who died in Pear Harbor attack identified

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Another sailor, who was initially buried at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in a grave marked “unknown” following the 1941 Japanese attack on the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, has been identified.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced today that the remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class James N. Phipps, 24, of Rainier, Oregon, will be buried Oct. 17 in Portland, Ore., with full military honors.

Phipps was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the battleship was hit by seven to nine Japanese torpedoes. The battleship rolled over in the harbor, trapping hundreds of men inside, according to the National Park Service.

The remains of the ship’s men were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in unmarked gravesites after military officials were able to identify only 35 men in 1947.

The attack on the ship resulted in 429 deaths.

No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently buried in the Halawa and Nuuanu cemeteries and later moved to Punchbowl.

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, accounting agency personnel began exhuming the remains from Punchbowl for analysis.

In 2015, the last of the remaining sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma were disinterred, and identifications continue to be made.

To identify Phipps’ remains, scientists used mitochondrial DNA analysis, which matched a nephew, a niece and a grand-nephew; as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which matched Phipps’ records.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.

Last week the Pentagon identified two other Oklahoma sailors

They are Seaman 2nd Class Lewis L. Wagoner, 20, of Douglass County, Mo., who was buried in Whitewater, Kan.; and Navy Lt. j.g. Aloysius H. Schmitt, 32, of St. Lucas, Iowa, who was buried in Dubuque, Iowa.