Remains of local sailor killed at Pearl Harbor identified

Photo provided by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Photo provided by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Photo provided by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Aerial view of the capsized battleship during righting operations, looking aft. Ship is at about 132° position.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Looking forward on the offshore side of the capsized battleship, at the 109° position.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View from off-shore looking aft at the capsized battleship during the righting operation, with the ship in the 109° position.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. The capsized battleship seen during the righting process, at the 90° position.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. View on the main deck looking aft during righting operations. Note the wire rope extending across the deck over to salvage winches on Ford Island.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Aerial view of the battleship during righting operations, with the ship at the 10° position.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. Aerial view from the starboard bow, with the ship in the 2°-10° position during righting operations.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

Salvage operations, USS Oklahoma (BB-37), sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack. The refloated battleship enters drydock. Note the cofferdam sections on the ship's port side.

Naval History and Heritage Command/National Archives

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified the remains of Navy Seaman 1st Class Wesley E. Graham, 21, of Watervliet in June 2020. He will be buried in Augusta on October 27, officials said.

Graham was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma and performed deck duties like painting, cleaning and polishing the brightwork, collecting and disposing of garbage, and maintaining and repairing equipment. He was also a member of a gun crew.

The USS Oklahoma was moored at Pearl Harbor, when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941.

The ship was struck by multiple torpedoes and quickly capsized.

Graham was one of 429 crewmen who died on the ship.

A major salvage operation of the USS Oklahoma began in 1942 and the ship was righted and floated in 1943. The remains of the crew were recovered and interred at the Halawa and Nu'uanu cemeteries.

In September 1947, the remains of unidentified sailors were disinterred and taken to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

Staff confirmed the identifications of just 35 men at that time.

The unidentified remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Graham.

In 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the unknown sailors.

Scientists used DNA to identify Graham's remains. They were identified on June 5, 2020.

Gram received the Purple Heart, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal.

Graham will be buried Oct. 27, 2021, in Augusta, Michigan.

As of September 2021, the remains of 388 of 429 sailors aboard the USS Oklahoma have been identified.

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