WASHINGTON, D.C. (WAFB) - The remains of a World War II Navy sailor from Slidell, Louisiana have been identified more than 75 years after he was killed in the Pearl Harbor attack.
The remains of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Charles C. Gomez Jr. were accounted for on Sept. 19, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency on Friday.
Gomez was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked the ship. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to capsize. 429 crewmen died as a result of the attack, including 19-year-old Gomez.
In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) was tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater. The AGRS members disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.
At the time, The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identities of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma.
The AGRS then buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified, which included Gomez, as non-recoverable.
In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unidentified remains associated with the USS Oklahoma. DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for analysis on June 15, 2015.
Scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence to identify Gomez' remains.
There are still 72,771 servicemen who are unaccounted for from World War II. Gomez' name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.