PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — James Clifford Williams of Portland, Oregon was 20 years old when Japanese aircraft bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He was aboard the ill-fated USS Oklahoma and was one of 429 crewmen who lost their lives when torpedoes sunk the ship.
The Navy worked to recover the remains of the fallen sailors for over two years after the catastrophic attack. They were interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries.
Then in September of 1947, U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater were tasked with disinterring the sailors’ remains and transferring them to a laboratory where scientists would attempt to identify them. The names of just 35 men from the USS Oklahoma were confirmed at that time and the unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific — dubbed the “Punchbowl” — in Honolulu.
Williams was among a group of identified sailors who were classified as non-recoverable by the military in 1949.
But in 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) exhumed the unidentified remains from the Punchbowl once again. Using anthropological and Y-chromosome DNA analyses, Williams’ remains were finally identified.
The young man’s name is listed on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl along with others who are missing from WWII. Now, a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he’s been found. He is marked as “accounted for” on the DPAA’s website.
Naval Reserve Seaman 1st Class James C. Williams will be buried on Sept. 10 at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Family members can contact the Navy Service Casualty office at 800.443.9298 to learn more.