Families urge using new DNA tech to ID Pearl Harbor unknowns

by Jeremy

HONOLULU — William Edward Mann enlisted in the Navy after graduating from high school in rural Washington state. A guitar player, he picked up the ukulele while stationed in Hawaii.

SHe’since Dec. 7, 1941, he’s been presumed dead when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor and set off a massive explosion that sank his battleship, the USS Arizona, launching the U.S. into World War II.

Now, his niece is among some families of crew members who are demanding the U.S. military take advantage of advances in DNA technology to identify 85 sailors and Marines from Arizona who was buried as unknowns. They say the military has disinterred and identified remains from other Pearl Harbor battleships and should do the same for their loved ones.

“These men matter, and they served. They gave their lives for our country. And they deserve the same honor and respect as any other service member past, present, and future,” Teri Mann Whyatt said.

Arizona suffered more loss of life than any other ship at Pearl Harbor, with 1,177 dead. More than 900 went down with the ship and have remained entombed there ever since.

As with remains on other sunken ships, the Navy considers those aboard Arizona to be their final resting place. The families are not advocating for them to be removed and identified.

Kelly McKeague said his agency had spoken to the Navy about exhuming the Arizona unknowns and moving them to the ship without identifying them first. McKeague said it didn’t make “pragmatic sense” to place them.

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