Layton Thomas Banks was a U.S. navy coxswain who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on October 8, 2019.
Layton Banks was born on April 8, 1921 in Coffee County, Tennessee to John and Virginia Banks. He was their fifth child and the third son they gave birth to.
At some point, Banks joined the United States Military while in Dallas, Texas and was assigned to the USS Oklahoma as a coxswain.
Pearl Harbor Attack
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 and Banks was killed. His remains were located, but not identified. As a result, he was considered Missing in Action while his remains were buried in the Punchbowl at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Overall, 2,335 Americans were killed in the attack, 429, including Banks, were on the USS Oklahoma. The surprise attack led to 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.
In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked to identify unknown soldier's remains from the Pacific Theatre. However, they were only able to identify thirty-five of the crewmen from the USS Oklahoma. In October 1949, the American Graves Registration Service ruled Banks, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.
On December 7, 2007, the USS Oklahoma Memorial was dedicated on Ford Island, Hawaii in the form of black granite walls and white marble standards. According to Find a Grave, "The white marble standards represent its lost sailors and Marines. Each perfectly aligned marble standard symbolizes an individual in pristine white dress uniform, inspired from the naval tradition of ‘manning the rails.' In full dress whites the ship's crew stand at attention along the rails or in the rigging of the ship to display respect and honor. The marble standards of this memorial stand perfectly straight, 'manning the rails' of the Oklahoma, forever." Banks' marble standard is in Row 1.
Banks' name is also on the Honolulu Memorial's Courts of the Missing.
In 2015, the Department of Defense and the Defense POW/MIA accounting agency initiated a program to exhume the unidentified sailors of the USS Oklahoma to try and match their DNA against the DNA of family members whose loved ones were never identified. Scientists at the D.P.A.A. used anthropological analysis and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify the servicemen.
Through these methods, Layton Thomas Banks was identified on October 8, 2019.
Banks will be buried on October 24, 2020 at Rowlett Creek Cemetery in Plano, Texas.