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Billy Turner was a United States Navy sailor who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. At the time of his death, he was a Seaman, 1st Class. His remains were recovered between December 1941 and June 1944. They were identified on October 1, 2021.

Pearl Harbor

At about 7:48 AM on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service conducted a surprise military strike against the United States at the naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Oklahoma was one of the first ships to be attacked. The ship was torpedoed and capsized, killing Billy in the process.

Overall, 2,335 Americans were killed in the attack; 429, including Billy, were on the USS Oklahoma. The surprise attack led US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to declare December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy". The following day, the US Congress declared war on Japan, which led to the United States' formal entry into World War II.

Aftermath

Between December 1941 and June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the USS Oklahoma personnel, who were subsequently buried at the Halawa and Nu'uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked with identifying the remains from the Pacific Theatre. However, they were only able to identify 35 of the crewmen. In October 1949, the AGRS ruled Billy and the remaining crewmen as unrecoverable, and the unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and was memorialized at Court 2 of the Honolulu Memorial and the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

Identification

In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began the USS Oklahoma Project, whose goal was to individually identify the USS Oklahoma crewmen. The unidentified remains were exhumed between June and November 2015 for analysis. DPAA scientists and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used dental and anthropological analysis and mtDNA analysis, respectively. By the time of the project's closing on the 80th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, 361 of the 394 sailors and Marines were individually identified, with all the Marines being identified.

Thanks to these advancements in forensic technology, Billy Turner's remains were identified on October 1, 2021. His identification was announced on December 23, 2021. He will be buried in his hometown, Ardmore, Oklahoma. The date has yet to be decided.

Sources

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