Remains of 3 sailors from Pearl Harbor identified

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Two-thirds of a century ago, Kathleen Wyman drove her brother to California to join the Navy. From there, he shipped out to the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor.

He never came home.

Ensign Eldon Wyman was 24 when he died in the Japanese attack of Dec. 7, 1941. Along with hundreds of others, he was buried in mass graves, officially listed as unknowns.

But Thursday, the Pentagon announced that the remains of Eldon Wyman and two other sailors had been identified, and their remains would be returned to their families.

"I'm very grateful that there's been such persistence in following up on this," Kathleen Wyman said in an interview.

She's known about the identification for a few weeks, and she's known about the possibility of an identification for about four years. She plans to put her brother's ashes in a niche next to their father and mother.

The attack on the Oklahoma left 429 sailors and Marines dead. Following the attack, 36 of these servicemen were identified and the remaining 393 were buried as unknowns in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The focus on Pearl Harbor remains has intensified in recent years through the research of one of the few survivors from the Oklahoma, Ray Emory.

As a result of Emory's work, Kathleen Wyman gave a blood sample for a DNA analysis, used by forensic anthropologists at a special military command along with other means, such as dental records, to identify the remains of her younger brother.

The Pentagon identified the other sailors as Ensign Irvin A.R. Thompson of Hudson County, N.J., and Fireman 2nd Class Lawrence Boxrucker of Dorchester, Wis. Boxrucker will be buried Saturday.

"I am thrilled to death. It is just kind of a relief to know he is home," said 82-year-old Agnes Boxrucker, who was married to one of the sailor's late cousins. "When the veterans service officer called me, I just went ecstatic. Wow."

After her brother died, Kathleen Wyman quit a teaching job in Portland and enlisted as a member of the Navy WAVES. She was on active and reserve duty for 22 years, retiring as a lieutenant commander. In 1980, she retired as a teacher at Wilson High School.

Now 94, she remembers the times leading to war, and the years of the conflict.

"That was such as life-changing event for so many people," she said. "That was a very important part of my life."


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