Five US Navy Sailors Who Died at Pearl Harbor Identified 75 Years Later

By | September 26, 2016

Almost 430 US Navy sailors, crew, and US Marines died on the USS Oklahoma when the ship was torpedoed by a Japanese aircraft, capsized and sank to the bottom of the harbor. Hundreds of bodies were retrieved, but could not be identified and so were buried as unknowns.

In 2015, the remains of five US Navy sailors were exhumed from their unknown graves and were transported to US military facilities where they were examined, and tests were undertaken to identify them, more than 75 years after their ship sank.

An aerial view of salvage operations on 19 March 1943, looking toward Ford Island, with ship in 90 degree position.

The five sailors from the USS Oklahoma whose bodies have been exhumed have been identified as:

Albert Hayden a Chief Petty Officer – he was 44 years old and was from Saint Mary’s County;

Lewis Stockdale an Ensign – he was 27 years old and from Montana;

Dale Pearce a Seaman 2nd Class – he was 21 years old and from Kansas;

Vernon Luke a Petty Officer 1st Class – he was 43 years old and from Wisconsin

Duff Gordon a Chief Petty Officer – he was 52 years old and also from Wisconsin.

Albert Hayden had already fought in the First World War and had joined the US Navy in 1917. Duff Gordon may have been one of the oldest sailors on the ship, while Dale Pearce would've been one of the youngest.

Lewis Stockdale later had a US destroyer escort ship named after him, christened by his family members.

The sailors were identified using new technology and advances in science which have become recently available. Dental records from before World War Two have been used and compared with the make-up of the teeth from the sailors.

The sailors are the first to be identified and are part of a wider project organized by the US Defense Department to retrieve and identify the remains of almost 400 of the USS Oklahoma’s unknown sailors.