December 7, 1941 will remain in the history books as the day the Japanese brought the United States into World War II.
Seaman Second Class Challis Rudolph James, an 18 year old from New Boston lost his life while aboard the USS Oklahoma on this day.
The following information was obtained from the National Park Service website:
The USS Oklahoma, moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, was sunk by Japanese aircraft during the attack on Pearl Harbor. A total of 429 crewmen aboard the USS Oklahoma were killed in the early morning hours of Dec. 7, 1941, after the ship quickly capsized from the numerous torpedo hits.
From December 1941 through June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of those who perished, interring them in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries in Hawaii.
The remains were disinterred by the American Graves Registration Service from the two cemeteries in September 1947, and transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. Only 35 men were identified out of the 429 killed. Nearly 400 unidentified remains were buried as Unknowns in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In 2003, as a result of the research efforts of Pearl Harbor survivor Ray Emory, a single casket associated with the USS Oklahoma loss was disinterred. Anthropological and DNA evidence have shown that remains are extremely commingled, with at least 95 individuals represented in the first disinterred casket based on mitochondrial DNA results, said Dr. Carrie Brown, DPAA Forensic Anthropologist and USS Oklahoma Team Lead. Of those, five were initially identified following the disinterment: Fireman 2nd Class Lawrence A. Boxrucker, of Dorchester, Wisconsin; Fireman 3rd Class Gerald G. Lehman, of Hancock, Michigan; Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Charles H. Swanson, of Maywood, California; and Ens. Irvin A. R. Thompson, of Hudson County, New Jersey; and Ens. Eldon P. Wyman, of Portland, Oregon.
In 2015, as part of the USS Oklahoma Project, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, through a partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs, exhumed all of the unknown remains from the USS Oklahoma, and began the lengthy identification process. As of December 2017, DPAA made their 100th identification from the ship’s casualties.
Included in the list of identified sailors was James. According to family members, his body has not been brought back for a proper funeral as of today. An interview with family members is to take place and a complete story from that conversation will appear in the Daily Times in the near future. The Daily Times will also cover the ceremony when James is returned to the family here.