Serviceman's remains returned home 75 years after Pearl Harbor - - Jackson, MS

Serviceman's remains returned home 75 years after Pearl Harbor

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT

The remains of a Mississippi serviceman, who died aboard the USS Oklahoma 75 years ago in Pearl Harbor, have been identified through a specialized DNA test. 

Tuesday, the remains were returned home to his relatives. 23-year-old Navy Fireman 1st class Jim H. Johnston was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was hit by a surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.

Four hundred thirty-nine crewmen died, including Johnston.

No single vessel at Pearl Harbor, with the exception of the USS Arizona, suffered as many fatalities. 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.  

In 1947, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. causalities from the two cemeteries and transferred them to Schofield Barracks.

The staff was only able to confirm the ID of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  

It was a startling turnaround in 2015 when personnel began exhuming the remains for analysis.

To identify Johnston's remains, military scientists used mitochondrial DNA analysis which matched two nephews.They consider circumstantial evidence as well as laboratory evidence, to include dental comparisons, which matched Johnston's records.

A Navy honor guard took the flag-draped casket off the jet.

The "patriot guard" escorted the remains of Johnston to a Brookhaven funeral home. 

"Being able to ride with a group like this on a day like today escorting  a fallen solider from 75 years ago home," said Van Robertson of Memphis.

Firemen and complete strangers paid their respects on roadsides and bridges. An overwhelming moment for his nephew.

"It came on all of a sudden for the family. This is just grown into something so big," said nephew Jimmy Springs. "It's absolutely overwhelming for the family to know that this is taking place 75 years since his death, for this to be happening." 

Petty Officer Johnston will be laid to rest Wednesday, in his hometown of Wesson.

According to the Defense department, there are more than 73,000 service members still unaccounted for from World War II.

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