WATCH: Sailor who died at Pearl Harbor identified more than 70 years later: 'We're still taking it all in,' says nephew

2019-03-23 07:21
Roman W. Sadlowski was killed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was attacked in Pearl Harbor in 1941. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency via AP)

Roman W. Sadlowski was killed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was attacked in Pearl Harbor in 1941. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency via AP)

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A sailor from Massachusetts who died when the Japanese sank the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 has been identified, military officials announced on Friday.

Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Roman W. Sadlowski, 21, of Pittsfield, was accounted for in December following a lengthy process that included advanced DNA and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a statement.

"We're still taking it all in," said Joe Makarski, of Rockland, Massachusetts, Sadlowski's nephew who was born shortly after his uncle died. Makarski supplied a DNA sample that helped with the identification process.

'I remember my mother was very fond of him'

"I didn't know him personally, but I certainly knew of him, and I remember my mother was very fond of him," Makarski said.

There are no burial plans at this point, he said.

The battleship USS Oklahoma was struck by multiple torpedoes during the December 7, 1941, attack and quickly capsized.

A total of 429 crewmen on the battleship were killed. The remains of the crewmen were recovered over the next few years and buried at two cemeteries in Hawaii.

After World War II, efforts were made to identify the remains, but scientists were only able to confirm the identities of 35.

The rest were buried at the Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified, including Sadlowski, as non-recoverable.

Those remains were exhumed in 2015 for additional analysis using modern scientific techniques.

To date, 203 of those sets of remains from the USS Oklahoma have been identified, according to Chuck Prichard, a spokesperson for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

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