Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown

HELENA, Mont. - A Navy fireman killed during World War II has been accounted for after being an unidentified casualty of the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks at Pearl Harbor.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Wesley J. Brown, 25, of Helena, Montana was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft on Dec. 7, 1941.

The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Brown a release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says.

Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew which were brought to the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

Members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) were tasked in September of 1947 with recovering and identifying the fallen and the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

The laboratory staff was initially only able to confirm the identities of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma and the unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

A military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Brown, in October of 1949.

More recently, between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.

Brown’s remains were identified by scientists from DPAA who used dental and anthropological analysis.

Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System also used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome (Y-STR) analysis according to the release.

“Brown’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII,” the release reads. “A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”

Brown was accounted for on Dec. 22, 2020, and will be buried on Aug. 28, 2021, in Smithland, Iowa.

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