San Diego

Remains of Local Navy Sailor Accounted for 76 Years After Death in Pearl Harbor Attacks

The remains of a local Navy sailor killed during World War II have been accounted for, more than 76 years after his death.

Navy Chief Pharmacist’s Mate James T. Cheshire of San Diego was identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) on Sept. 10, 2018, the organization announced Wednesday.

Cheshire was assigned to the USS Oklahoma battleship during the Pearl Harbor attacks on Dec. 7, 1941.

His ship was docked at Ford Island, a small island in the center Pearl Harbor.

During the attacks, the USS Oklahoma was hit by multiple torpedoes, causing the battleship to capsize, DPAA said.

This resulted in the deaths of 429 servicemembers, including Cheshire, according to the agency.

It took until June 1944 for the sailors’ remains to be recovered. After this time, they were buried in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

Three years later, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) then transferred these remains to the Schofield Barracks on Honolulu to be identified.

Here, the staff was only able to identify 35 men from the USS Oklahoma wreckage, DPAA said.

The remaining unidentified fallen servicemembers were then buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl. The cemetery is also located on Honolulu.

In October 1949, a military board classified these unidentified sailors as non-recoverable, including Cheshire, according to DPAA.

More than 65 years later, Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work ordered for the unknown sailors associated with the USS Oklahoma to be analyzed again.

This long process began on June 15, 2015, DPAA said. DNA, as well as anthropologic analysis and circumstantial evidence were used to try and identify these servicemembers.

More than 1,000 days went by before DPAA confirmed Cheshire’s remains had been accounted for in Sept. of last year.

Cheshire, who was listed on the Walls of Missing at the Punchbowl where he was laid to rest for so many years, now has a rosette next to his name to signal his remains have been found.

Roughly 16 million Americans served in World War II. Of those servicemembers, about 400,000 died and more than 72,000 are still unaccounted for, DPAA said.

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