Officially, the U.S. death toll in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor is 2,403. But the books have yet to be closed on identifying the available remains of more than 150 of those killed on what President Franklin D. Roosevelt called a “day that will live in infamy.”
Ahead of remembrance ceremonies in Hawaii on the 79th anniversary of the attacks, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced Dec. 1 that the remains of four more sailors from that day had been identified, including two brothers.
Navy Fire Controlman 2nd Class Harold F. Trapp, 24, and his brother, Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class William H. Trapp, 23, both of La Porte, Indiana, were killed aboard the battleship Oklahoma.
Navy Chief Carpenter’s Mate Tedd M. Furr, 39, of Mobile, Alabama, also served on the Oklahoma, while Navy Seaman 1st Class Carl S. Johnson, 20, of Phoenix, Arizona, served on the battleship West Virginia, DPAA said.
The Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits from Japanese aircraft, quickly capsized and sank in the harbor, resulting in the deaths of 429 crew members.
The West Virginia also took multiple torpedo hits, but counter-flooding measures by the crew kept it from capsizing as it sank to the harbor floor. A total of 106 crew members were killed.
The West Virginia was refloated and rebuilt, and saw service later in World War II, in the Philippines campaign. The Oklahoma was deemed beyond repair and designated to be sold for scrap, but sank in a storm while being towed to San Francisco.
The Trapp brothers, Furr and Johnson were among those whose remains could not be identified with the forensic means available during the war.
They were buried with hundreds of others as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the “Punchbowl,” in Honolulu, according to DPAA.
More than 900 of the 1,177 crew members of the battleship Arizona killed in the attacks remain entombed permanently aboard the ship, now a national shrine and considered a war grave.
In recent years, DPAA scientists have begun the task of disinterring remains from the Punchbowl and methodically identifying them using DNA analysis.
The unknowns from the total of 429 who died aboard the Oklahoma initially numbered more than 380. More than 20 from the West Virginia were also listed as unknowns.
In March 2019, DPAA announced that the 200th of the 388 from the Oklahoma had been identified — Navy Fireman 1st Class Billy James Johnson, 22, of Caney, Kentucky.
All of the fallen from the Pearl Harbor attacks and the dwindling number of survivors will be honored Monday at the 79th National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremonies. Adm. John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, will make remarks aboard the battleship Missouri memorial and museum.
However, attendance by survivors will be limited to those now living in Hawaii due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The closed event will feature a moment of silence and a flyover in the missing man formation, according to the Defense Department.