Pearl Harbor's Dead Bodies Are Still Being Identified

First Posted: Dec 12, 2016 05:41 AM EST

It has been 75 years when Japan's attack that came as a surprise on Pearl Harbor that killed 2,403 Americans. However, the forensic experts in Hawaii are still working on discovering the identities of the dead people. A jumble of skulls, bones and teeth deemed elusive within the years following the devastating attack and are currently linked to missing sailors and Marines, due to advances in DNA testing.

Last year, the Pentagon ordered the digging up of remains that belong to the 388 Americans that were killed aboard the USS Oklahoma, a massive warship that took multiple torpedo hits and keeled over in the Pearl Harbor berth that traps hundreds of men inside. On Dec. 7, 1941, the attack sank four warships in the so-called Battleship Row and did a great damage to additional four, according to Yahoo.

Up to hundreds of Marines and sailors went down with their ships, others were burned by the explosions and fires produced. Under the Pentagon directive, the unidentified remains have been disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu -- where they were buried in common caskets -- and transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, according to New Vision.

A team of dental specialists, technicians and anthropologists at the DPAA are still doing their best to identify the remains. They have succeeded in 53 cases throughout the past year alone.

Debra Zinni, a forensic anthropologist and laboratory manager, said that they are making identifications almost every day. Many of the bones have been well-preserved despite decades underground and months or years within the water before that, wherein Zinni attributed to the significant oil and fuel spills that had poured from the sinking battleships.

Zinni also added that the leaky material were saturated into the skeletal remains and have been preserved very well by the inhibiting microorganism specifically bacteria, and also the DNA extraction rate is extremely high and successful. The most recent identification proclaimed from the Oklahoma was of Navy Fireman 1st class Jim Johnston of age 23 from Wesson, Mississippi.

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