Jacksonville sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack to be laid to rest 79 years later

A Jacksonville man, killed aboard the U-S-S Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. News4jax reporter Ashley Harding joins us live this morning with this incredible story.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 22-year-old Jacksonville man killed aboard the USS Oklahoma when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, has finally been accounted for and laid to rest, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class James M. Flanagan was assigned to the battleship, which was moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Flanagan.

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 September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time.

The service subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Flanagan.

Between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.

To identify Flanagan’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), Y chromosomal DNA (Y-STR) and autosomal STR DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Flanagan’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.

Flanagan was buried on Nov. 6, 2020, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Navy for their partnership in this mission.