(WASHINGTON) — The Pentagon plans to exhume the remains of 338 unknown soldiers and Marines killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor in an attempt to identify them.
According to the Department of Defense, the remains are associated with the USS Oklahoma. The remains of the 337 individuals were co-mingled and buried in 61 group caskets. The process could take about six months, officials say.
The DOD additionally says it has set a new threshold criteria for the disinterment of unknown remains at U.S. military cemeteries. In order to exhume the remains, there would have to be a 60 percent chance to identify the individual from a set of group remains and 50 percent for an individual set of remains.
The USS Oklahoma sank after being hit by torpedoes during the Japanese attack, taking 429 sailors and Marines with it. Thirty-five of those victims were positively identified and buried in the years immediately following.
“The secretary of Defense and I will work tirelessly to ensure your loved ones’ remains will be recovered, identified, and returned to you as expeditiously as possible, and we will do so with dignity, respect and care,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said in a statement. “While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible.”
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