HONOLULU (KHON2) – A sailor who died while serving on the USS Oklahoma in WWII was laid to rest at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl on Monday, June 6.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said that Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class George Gilbert, 20, of Indianapolis, was identified on Aug. 24, 2020.
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Family members were in attendance for the service from Arkansas. The family said the date of Gilbert’s service on June 6 was chosen because that was his daughter’s birthday. His daughter passed before he was formally identified.
Pacific Historic Parks officials said Gilbert’s daughter’s daughter, or his granddaughter, Shelly Gough was there. Gough’s two sons were in the Marines. One of her sons was stationed at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe.
Members from veterans groups also paid their respects at the service.
Gilbert was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941 by Japanese aircraft.
The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, and it quickly capsized. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Gilbert.
Gilbert’s name was on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
The Navy recovered the remains of the deceased crew from the USS Oklahoma from December 1941 to June 1944. They were interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. The American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries and took them to the Central Identification Laboratory located at Schofield Barracks in September 1947.
There were 35 military men from the USS Oklahoma identified. The AGRS buried unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Gilbert.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis between June and November 2015. Scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used anthropological analysis and mitochondrial DNA analysis to identify Gilbert and others.
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“What they do here is amazing,”said Gilbert’s granddaughter Shelly Gough. “It is amazing to be able to have closure to know that the loved ones are finally identified.”