Family members of Herbert “Bert” Jacobson, a Navy sailor who served on the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, will finally be put to rest at the Arlington National Cemetery after 80 years of not knowing what happened to him.
Bert was among the more than 400 sailors and Marines killed on the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack after it had been hit with nine torpedos.
Experts overseeing and investigating the tragic event said he died while he was sleeping in his bunk before he even realized there was a war going on.
Brad McDonald, Bert’s nephew, told Fox 32 that a good friend of his uncle’s from the Navy said he was pretty sure Jacobson “was asleep in his bunk and died before he even knew a war was going on. But we don’t really know.”
His body, along with the remains of hundreds of personnel from the battleship, were anonymously buried for decades in a dormant volcanic crater near Pearl Harbor.
The scientific quest to put names on the fallen sailors has been tough, but Bert was one of the few that they were able to identify.
The family who has waited all their lives to attend a memorial for the young sailor they knew about but never met said his body was laid to rest on Tuesday (Sept 13).
“This has kind of been an unsolved mystery and it gives us closure to finally know what happened to Bert, where he is and that he’s being finally laid to rest after being listed as an unknown for so long,” Brad McDonald, Bert’s nephew, told Fox 32.
Bert who was from the small northern Illinois town of Grayslake was 21 years old at the time he died. The ship he died in remained submerged for over two years before it was refloated to the surface and the bodies on board were recovered.
The bodies could not be identified at the time, including Bert’s, and were placed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, commonly known as the Punchbowl.
In 2015, the Department of Defense announced plans to exhume the remains again and scientists got to work trying to identify their bodies.
“We now have the ability to forensically test these remains and produce the identifications,” Debra Prince Zinni, a forensic anthropologist and laboratory manager at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Hawaii, CBS reported.
The effort led to identifying 355 men, including Jacobson, was successful except for 33 sets of remains that still could not be identified.