Pentagon to exhume remains of Pearl Harbor victims

388 Unidentified Pearl Harbor Victims to Be Exhumed, ID'd
388 Unidentified Pearl Harbor Victims to Be Exhumed, ID'd

The Department of Defense announced plans Tuesday to exhume the remains of nearly 400 unidentified sailors and Marines who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Of 429 service members who were killed when the Japanese attacked the USS Oklahoma in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, the remains of up to 388 remained unaccounted over the years, mostly buried in "unknown" graves in Hawaiian cemeteries.

Decades later, the Department of Defense believes it has the necessary technology to accurately identify many of the remaining unknown sailors and Marines who died in the attack.

"The secretary of defense and I will work tirelessly to ensure your loved one's remains will be recovered, identified, and returned to you as expeditiously as possible, and we will do so with dignity, respect and care," Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said in a statement. "While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible."

A forensic anthropologist from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that because of how the remains were originally sorted, each casket contains the bones of dozens of service members. Those complications mean it may take officials years to identify all the remains.

Anyone who is positively identified will receive a new burial with full military honors.