Family wants remains of Swanzey sailor killed at Pearl Harbor returned for NH burial
"He was identified," said Gray, from his home in Guilford, Conn. "We know where he is. A 19-year-old boy lost his life. Our family paid the price of losing a loved one. He deserves more than a comingled grave marked 'unknown,' and we want to give him that. This can be fixed."
Gray said his family has traced his cousins remains to the National Memorial. He said in 1943, Hopkins and 381 other veterans were recovered from the wreck of the Oklahoma. Their bodies were buried in mass graves at the Halawa and Nu'uana cemeteries in Honolulu until 1949, when the Army Graves Registration Service disinterred the graves to identify the remains within each. The service recommended that 27 soldiers and Marines, including Hopkins, killed on the Oklahoma be identified. However, Gray said an anthropologist working on the project refused to certify his cousins remains, and they were all classified as unknown.
Family members were never told of the disinterment. Hopkins and 26 other Marines and sailors were reburied in the Punchbowl, under a marker reading "unknowns." Gray says he is one of 10 men buried in Section P, Grave 1003, in National Memorial Cemetery.
"We have a sacred obligation to honor our fallen service members, and I have urged the Pentagon to increase and improve its efforts to identify the remains of service members so they can be returned to their loved ones," said Sen. Ayotte on Thursday. "I am working with Pentagon officials and members of the Connecticut delegation to assist Mr. Gray with his family's request."
Saturday marks the 72nd anniversary of "a date that will live in infamy, " when an air attack by Japanese forces on U.S. naval and air installations at Pearl Harbor took the lives of 2,341 American Navy, Marine and Army personnel. Another 1,178 were wounded. Eighteen U.S. Navy ships were sunk or badly damaged, and nearly all the planes at the Hawaiian bases were destroyed or damaged.
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