USS Oklahoma dead, first identified, then marked as unidentified, now to be identified again
This is about the remains of a man, Edwin Hopkins, a fireman 3rd class, killed in the USS Oklahoma during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His family was initially told that his body was unidentified and buried as such. In the 1990s a veteran of Pearl Harbor found out that some remains had been initially identified and later noted as unidentified, including those of Hopkins. Why this happened is unclear. Maybe it was just easier for the Navy with all the other stuff they were dealing with at the time. Did the DOD think it make the attack more brutal to think more men were left unidentifiable? It was harder to id people then than now. It would have taken a lot of time, money and effort. The news that Eddie's remains had been identified and buried as unidentified nearly devastated his remaining siblings. His family has fought ever since to get his remains back for local burial and the US Navy and DOD blocked them continuously. Two of his cousins have paperwork showing that his remains were initially identified. They finally enlisted the help of a number of politicians to get the DOD to historically agree to exhume the remains of nearly 400 Oklahoma servicemen listed as unidentified, although some of them were initially identified, over the next 5 years, id them, and bury them individually.
Here's a quote that I found pretty interesting on many levels. "I know my cousin is in grave P1003. I know there are two caskets in that grave, there's five men in each casket from the Oklahoma so I even know who my cousin's buried with in there. There are 18 families across the US that are involved in this and we're all in touch with each other."
Can you imagine the families affected just by 1 grave? Imagine 400 families...who lost a family member at Pearl Harbor and know that at least some of their remains were de-identified because it was easier for the government. With the advances in technology to id the dead it is time to set this record straight. I'm glad it is finally happening. It is so much better to identify them than to have a statue to an unknown soldier. That day and the impact of such a thought is past.
Read more about it here http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32740504