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The Remains Of A 19-Year-Old Sailor Who Died At Pearl Harbor Were Finally Identified Eight Decades Later Using Advanced Forensic Techniques

Ryan Tishken - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

Eight decades after his death at Pearl Harbor, the remains of a young sailor were identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, which is part of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Military officials used advanced forensic techniques to confirm the identity of a 19-year-old man named David Walker from Norfolk, Virginia.

Walker was a mess attendant aboard the USS California, one of the 19 U.S. ships that were destroyed when Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

At the time, Pearl Harbor served as the U.S. naval base on Oahu, a Hawaiian island. The strike took the lives of around 2,400 people, including Walker.

He was one of 25 unknown crew members on the USS California buried in Hawaii. In 2018, those bodies were dug up and examined.

Through DNA and dental analyses, scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency were able to figure out Walker’s identity. The agency is responsible for identifying missing military personnel.

Later this year, Walker will be buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. At the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, a rosette will be placed next to his name on the Walls of the Missing to demonstrate that he has finally been found.

Walker had been attending I.C. Norcom High School in Portsmouth, Virginia when he dropped out and joined the U.S. Navy. He was one of the few Black service members on the ship.

“There were only a handful of jobs that were open to African American service members in the Navy, and mess attendant was one of them,” said Sean Everette, a spokesperson for the agency. “Back then, the Navy was still segregated.”

Ryan Tishken – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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