SAN DIEGO — A San Diego Navy sailor who was killed at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor during World War II has been identified after 81 years, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Thursday.
Navy Storekeeper 1st Class Harry E. Walker, 36, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft, according to the DPAA. It sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly overturned.
The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Walker, who was accounted for on March 9, 2021, the agency said.
The recovery efforts for the deceased crew, who were later laid to rest in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries, happened from December 1941 to June 1944, the DPAA stated. Those remains were later disinterred by members of the American Graves Registration Service in September 1947, when they were able to identify 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at the time. Meanwhile, the unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
A military board had classified the unidentified remains, which included Walker, as non-recoverable, in October 1949, the DPAA stated.
Later in 2015, DPAA personnel dug up the USS Oklahoma unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.
“To identify Walker’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis,” the DPAA said. “Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.”
Walker’s name and others who went missing from WWII have been recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, according to the agency. In addition, a rosette will be placed next to their names to indicate they have been accounted for.
Walker will be buried on March 15 in Verdes, California.
For family and funeral information, contact the Navy Service Casualty office at 800-443-9298.