North Carolina sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack can finally be laid to rest

North Carolina News

ALBEMARLE, N.C. (WGHP) — A sailor from North Carolina died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Only we didn’t have confirmation until today – nearly 80 years after 2,403 were killed in the bombing on Dec. 7, 1941.

The Defense POW /MIA Accounting Agency announced Seaman First Class Edward E. Talbert of Albemarle had been accounted for on Aug. 5, 2021.

Talbert was 19 and aboard the USS Oklahoma when the ship was struck by multiple torpedoes and capsized off Ford Island in Pearl Harbor. He was among the 429 who died, a DPMAA release said.

He will be buried March 26 in Albemarle.

The horror of destruction at the US Naval Base of Pearl Harbour (Pearl Harbor) which was attacked without warning by the Japanese airforce on the 7th December 1941. The attack took place whilst the Japanese were holding peace talks in Washington. More than 2000 servicemen were killed, and a large part of the US fleet destroyed. The attack caused the USA to join the war. This salvage crew is on the deck of the USS Oklahoma sunk on the night of the attack. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

“Families get a letter saying the remains were not recovered; then they get a letter saying the remains can’t be identified,” Gene Hughes from the U.S. Navy told WGHP by phone. “Then they get a letter saying we have identified your family member.

“I’ve been doing this for five years, and this is the best job I’ve ever had. It’s such a blessing.”

The Navy, between the attack and June 1944, recovered remains from the ship and buried them at two cemeteries in Hawaii, the release said, and following the war, members of the American Graves Registration disinterred those remains and began the process of trying to identify them.

Scientists were able to identify only 35 men from the Oklahoma, and those who weren’t identified were reburied in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, a facility called the “Punchbowl,” the release said.

Talbert’s remains were in that group, which in 1949 were determined to be “non-recoverable.”

But then emergent science changed that possibility, and between June 2015 and November 2015, workers exhumed those remains for further investigation.

Using what they called anthropological analysis involving two types of DNA markers, scientists for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System were able to identify Talbert.

The release said that his name is now recorded among the missing, and that his name has been marked as identified.

Hughes said additional information about Talbert and his service record – duties, honors, promotions etc. – would be forthcoming. Family members are working with the Navy on the process of the formal services in Albermarle, which is in Stanly County, and details will be released when they are completed.

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