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Sailor killed at Pearl Harbor coming home

An aerial view of salvage operations on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. (U.S. Navy/Released)

Duane Kyser said the appropriate thing to do with the remains of his uncle, who was killed aboard the USS Oklahoma, is to return them here for burial.

Seaman 2C D.T. Kyser was born in Muskogee in 1923 and was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, while serving onboard the USS Oklahoma, which was sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Duane Kyser, who is named after his uncle, was born three years after his uncle’s death in California while his father served in the military. Kyser, who lives in Rancho Murieta, California, said he has been in touch with Fort Gibson National Cemetery to have his uncle’s remains interred there — hopefully next to D.T.’s father Hailey who died in 1939 and is buried at the cemetery.

“I have arrangements with a funeral home in Fort Gibson,” he said. “I’ve ordered a grave site marker and a casket for his remains — the Department of the Navy has been really good with their assistance. All that’s left now is to schedule a date for the funeral.

“We’re probably not going to do it until after the first of the year — not only because of the virus that’s going on, but the holidays and everything coming up.”

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Kyser knew very little about his uncle growing up. It’s a subject that his father Roy, D.T.’s next oldest sibling, rarely spoke of.

“My father talked very little about his family,” he said. “All we basically knew was that he was killed at Pearl Harbor during the attack. My dad was military. He was retired Air Force and was a quiet person. He never spoke much.

“We found out most of what we did about relatives was through other relatives that were still in Muskogee.”

From 1941-44, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the 429 crewmen of the USS Oklahoma who perished that day, among which was D.T. Kyser. Those remains were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as nonrecoverable, including Kyser.

In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma unknowns for analysis.

“They asked me for a DNA sample and if I had any male offspring,” Duane said. “I have two sons, so we forwarded the samples to the Department of the Navy and that’s how they identified (D.T.’s) remains.”

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(c) 2020 the Muskogee Phoenix

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