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Project USS Oklahoma works to account for those lost during Pearl Harbor decades later

Project USS Oklahoma
Posted at 4:49 PM, Jun 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-02 11:12:09-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Technology is working to bring military families closure, even decades after their loved ones were killed in war.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is part of the Department of Defense, and they work to recover and identify military members who are missing in action, prisoners of war or not identified.

Many lives were lost during the attack on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

DPAA leaders say there were more than 390 military members they could not identify after their bodies were recovered; they were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As part of Project USS Oklahoma, the agency was given permission in 2015 to dig up the bodies and have the bones tested along with DNA.

They say to date, they have now identified 388 military members killed that day.

One of the most recent identifications made was of Mess Attendant First Class Octavius N. Mabine.

They said Mess Attendant Mabine joined the U.S. Navy from Virginia and was aboard the USS Oklahoma when the ship came under attack from Japanese forces.

They said the Oklahoma capsized as a result of the attack, and MATT1 Mabine was killed in the incident. His remains were recovered from the ship, but they could not be identified at the time and were buried.

MATT1 Mabine's remains were exhumed and identified in November 2020.

“Almost every day is Memorial Day because we are constantly out there, looking for these people,” said Sean P. Everette, Public Affairs NCOIC Outreach and Communications for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Related: Colonial Williamsburg remembers fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

“Memorial Day is a great time to bring what we do into a little more focus because it is a good time to remember those who are still missing from our past conflicts," said Everette. "This is something that we as an agency, we take it very, very seriously, and it is a solemn mission. Our whole purpose is to research, find and recover these missing service members because they were were given a promise to never be left behind, and it is our duty to make sure that promise is fulfilled and that we can bring them home to their loved ones.”