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US sailor who died in Pearl Harbor attack finally identified; burial to be held in Mossyrock

Army National Guard Honor Guard officers extend full military honors. [MELODY BURRI/FOR MESSENGER POST MEDIA/TNS]
May 15, 2023

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced it has identified the remains of U.S. Navy Petty Officer Third Class Cecil Barncord, of Topeka, Kansas.

His burial — with full military honors — will take place at 11 a.m. June 7 at the Swofford Cemetery in Mossyrock, according to a news release from Dignity Memorial.

Barncord was an electrician’s mate assigned to the U.S.S. Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. When the Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor attack began, Barncord’s ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to quickly capsize.

Of the nearly 1,400 sailors on board the Oklahoma, 429 were killed, including Barncord.

While World War II continued, U.S. Navy personnel recovered remains of deceased crew members from Pearl Harbor until June 1944, interring those they recovered at the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries in Hawaii.

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains from the Hawaiian cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at the Schofield barracks, but laboratory staff were only able to identify 35 U.S.S. Oklahoma sailors at the time.

AGRS buried the unidentified remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified the unidentified remains as non-recoverable.

Then, in 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the remains of the unidentified sailors for further analysis. Using dental and anthropological analysis along with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, they were able to positively identify Barncord. The mtDNA analysis was performed by scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System.

While Barncord’s name is still recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.


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