On Pearl Harbor’s anniversary, Mississippi sailor laid to rest

77 years to the day, a Navy veteran killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor will be laid to rest in Mississippi. 

When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941, 24-year-old Durrell Wade, of Calhoun City, was a Navy Aviation Machinist stationed on the USS Oklahoma. The ship was hit by multiple torpedoes and quickly capsized. Wade was among the 429 deaths from the ship and the 2,403 total deaths from the attack. 

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

By September 1947, just 35 remains had been identified from the USS Oklahoma, and the unidentified remains, including Wade, were laid to rest in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. 

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for identification.

To identify Wade’s remains in April of this year, scientists from the DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial and Y-chromosome DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. 

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Wade’s remains were returned to his family, and he will now be buried during a ceremony at the Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery with full military honors. 

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 72,781 (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II.

Wade’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.