LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – The remains of a Kentucky sailor are being returned home this week, 76 years after he was killed in action at Pearl Harbor.
US Navy Fireman 1st Class Samuel W. Crowder will be buried with full military honors, December 9 in Louisville, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
The 35-year old sailor was assigned to the USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft, December 7, 1941. The USS Oklahoma sustained several torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Crowder.
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 unidentified remains were buried 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 Crowder.
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, personnel began exhuming the remains for analysis.
To identify Crowder’s remains, scientists and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used DNA analysis, which matched living family members, as well as circumstantial evidence and laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons and anthropological analysis.
The family was notified of the identification in late August.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war, with nearly 73,000 still unaccounted for, according to the DPAA, who says about 26,000 may be recoverable, given forensic advances over the years.
Crowder’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.