WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKRN) — A Tennessee service member who lost his life in the attack at Pearl Harbor aboard a Navy battleship has finally been identified, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced.
The DPAA reported Navy Seaman 1st Class William Brooks, 19, of Cumberland Gap, Tennessee was accounted for on May 19, 2022.
According to the DPAA, Brooks was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to quickly capsize. In total, 429 crewmen, including Brooks, lost their lives in the attack.
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
Three years later, in September 1947, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two Hawaiian cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks, also in Hawaii, and set about recovering and identifying the fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War.
The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Brooks.
However, between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.
To identify Brooks’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.
Brooks’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WW II. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Brooks will be buried July 16, in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
For family and funeral information, contact the Navy Service Casualty office at 800-443-9298.