The remains of Navy Seaman 2nd class Dale Pearce, who died during the attacks on Pearl Harbor, were finally brought back home Tuesday to be buried.
Dale Pearce was stationed at Pearl Harbor and served on the USS Oklahoma as a gunner when Japan attacked on December 7, 1941. The ship took multiple torpedo hits shortly after the attack began right before 8 A.M local time. In total, the ship was hit 9 times. The ship trapped the sailors after overturning roughly 12 minutes after the attacks began. As a result of the attack, 429 Sailors and Marines died or went missing serving on the USS Oklahoma.
Cousin Pierre Heit told the ParsonSun that Pearce was set to transfer to the USS Lexington at the time the USS Oklahoma was attacked at Pearl Harbor.
Roughly a year after the attack, Pearce’s remains were recovered but were unidentifiable. The remains were buried in Hawaii at the Punch Bowl National Cemetery.
“Those bodies were pretty well decayed, the bones were all intermingled,” Dale Pearce’s cousin, Ralph Pearce told Kansas.com. “The bones were all buried in mass graves.”
The Department of Defense DNA Registry have made efforts since the early 1990’s to catalog DNA of U.S Military serviceman that have served in the past as well well as the present.
Scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used family DNA and dental records to identify Pearce’s remains.
The Pearce family never received closure after Dale Pearce’s death. His tombstone that lays in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in his small hometown of Dennis, Kansas simply says he was lost at Pearl Harbor.
The American Legion Riders honored Pearce by escorting Pearce’s casket and his family from the Tulsa International Airport to a funeral home in Parsons. Citizens waved, saluted and held flags to honor Pearce’s memory.