Oliver Kenneth Burger is a United States Navy sailor who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on November 24, 2020 along with the Trapp brothers and David Clark Jr..
Early Life and Military Service
Oliver Burger was born in 1915 to Charles and Mae Burger in California. The fourth of nine siblings, he enlisted into the United States Navy from Los Angeles County, California. His service number is 2952575. He served on the USS Oklahoma and was ranked as a Petty Officer 1st Class, with his specialty being Water Tender 1st Class. In 1938, he married Mary Magee and together they had a daughter, Glenna, who was born in 1939.
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. Burger was killed during the attack, though his exact circumstances are unknown. His remains were located between 1941 and 1944, 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 Burger, 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.
Burger was awarded the Purple Heart after his death.
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 Burger, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.
His name is featured on the USS Oklahoma Memorial with his marble stand in Row 1, and the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Court 5.
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, Oliver Kenneth Burger was identified on November 24, 2020.