80+ years after death, Kansas sailor who died in Pearl Harbor to return home
Douglass, Kan. (WIBW) - More than 80 years after his death aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor, one Kansas sailor will finally be returned and buried in his home state.
Officials with the U.S. Navy said that Seaman 2nd Class Floyd Clifford, of Mulvane, died during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Now, he makes his way back to his home state for burial in Douglass on May 2. Full military graveside honors will be given at 2 p.m. at the Richland Cemetery, on the corner of SE 105th and SE Stubbs Rd. in Shawnee Co.
The Navy indicated that Clifford was 20 years old at the time of his death aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma. He has been awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal and American Campaign Medal.
According to officials, the Oklahoma was commissioned in 1916 and sailed multiple missions before she was brought down at Pearl Harbor. The ship, under the command of Captain Howard D. Bode, was actually supposed to have already been out at sea patrolling the Hawaiian Islands - but along with 8 other battleships, the crew was advised there was to be an admiral’s inspection on Monday. When the attack began at 8 a.m., many crew members were still asleep and never made it to the main deck that day.
After 9 torpedoes were fired in about 15 minutes, the Navy said the Oklahoma was torn open and had rolled completely over, trapping crewmembers not fortunate enough to escape within her hull. A day after the attack, holes had been cut in the bottom of the ship, allowing 32 men to be pulled from the wreckage alive. Banging continued the next day, however, these crew members could never be reached. In total, 429 sailors died on the Oklahoma as a result of the attack.
Before the 2015 disinterment, which marked the start of Project Oklahoma, officials said 388 servicemembers had been unaccounted for. Since then, 356 have been positively identified. Remains are identified using DNA reference samples from USS Oklahoma families. The Department of Defense now has more than 361 required samples to support analysis as well as medical and dental records.
By December 2017, officials noted that 100 sailors had been identified. By 2021, that number climbed to 300. On the 80th anniversary of the fateful attack, the final 33 unidentified soldiers were reinterred. Since then, one more sailor has been identified.
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