By Joseph Ryder
On December 7, 1941, the battleship USS Oklahoma capsized during the attack on Pearl Harbor. A total of 429 officers and sailors were killed or declared missing.
In 1949, the sailors’ remains were tentatively identified, but the anthropologist assigned to the case would not sign off. In the past few months, the military has made progress in identifying the remains of sailors from the ship.
Kenneth Jayne was a sailor aboard the Oklahoma and a native of Patchogue, Long Island. He died during the attack. Jayne is one of over 20 crew members of the Oklahoma that have been identified since November of last year.
“Closure is the word, it's necessary,” said Jayne’s nephew, Ken Shultz, who’s named after his uncle. He got a call in April from the military to say his uncle’s remains had been formally identified.
“We’ve been waiting a while and my mom's not here to see it, but she’s watching.”
U.S Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) says that’s because they didn’t have the technology then.
“There were hundreds of bodies buried in unmarked graves that died in the Pearl Harbor attack on the Oklahoma, and today's technology allows you to identify those remains.”
Murphy says he was contacted by a Connecticut family, who were in the same situation as Ken Shultz’s. In 2014 Murphy wrote a letter to then Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Murphy petitioned the military to exhume and identify the unknowns from the Oklahoma.
Last year, the military decided to do so.
In the coming months, Ken Shultz plans to have his uncle’s remains brought back to Long Island.
“We intend to bring him home, to where he grew up here in Patchogue, New York, and bury him in our local cemetery, which is Cedar Grove Cemetery, behind his mother and father.”
The military says it will give Kenneth Jayne a full military funeral.
This story was originally aired on WSHU Public Radio on May 28, 2016