US sailor killed at Pearl Harbour finally laid to rest, more than 80 years later

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941. PHOTO: UNITED STATES NAVY

WASHINGTON - The remains of a US sailor killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour more than 80 years ago were buried on Tuesday at Arlington National Cemetery, a spokesman told AFP.

Herbert Jacobson, nicknamed Bert by his relatives, was 21 years old when he was reported missing after the surprise attack by Japanese warplanes on the morning of Dec 7, 1941.

The assault, which catapulted the United States into World War II, damaged or destroyed most of the US fleet stationed at the Hawaii naval base, and resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Americans.

It was the deadliest attack on US soil until the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Jacobson was among the more than 400 men who lost their lives aboard the USS Oklahoma, one of four battleships sunk by Japanese torpedoes.

The ship was refloated two years later, after which any recovered remains were buried at a military cemetery in Hawaii.

An attempt to identify the remains through dental records was made some years later, though it was largely unsuccessful.

A new campaign was launched in 2003, with a subsequent one in 2015, to use more advanced identification methods, such as DNA matching.

Since 2003, according to the US defence agency managing the programme, 361 individuals have been successfully identified among the USS Oklahoma remains, including those of Jacobson in 2019.

His funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, located across the river from Washington, had been previously postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. AFP

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