USS Oklahoma Radioman 3rd Class Jack R. Goldwater died at the age of 19 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. More than 70 years after his burial among the “unknowns” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency positively identified Goldwater’s remains in March.
Goldwater’s family members got closure this month when they scattered his ashes in the waters off Ford Island, where the young sailor was killed during the attack.
Rear Adm. Brian Fort and more than 50 Navy sailors and civilians attended the ceremony June 7.
“I was floored at the number of people, the 21-gun salute, the attention to detail and the kindness shown to me and my children,” Goldwater’s niece, Diane Goldwater Munck, said in an email.
Goldwater joined the Navy in San Francisco and served on the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island. He died along with 428 fellow crew members when multiple Japanese aerial torpedoes hit and eventually sank the 27,500-ton ship.
In September 1947, the recovered remains of the USS Oklahoma’s crew were transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks, where laboratory staff was able to confirm the identifications of only 35 sailors at the time. The unidentified remains were placed in 46 plots at Punchbowl. In 2015, a new effort was launched to identify the USS Oklahoma “unknowns,” and the remains were exhumed for analysis.
Using DNA, anthropological and dental analysis and other evidence, scientists were able to identify Goldwater’s remains.
“It was pretty incredible that my uncle was identified with such few remains,” Munck said.
More than 200 sets of remains from the USS Oklahoma have been identified so far. On Thursday the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced it had identified the remains of Navy Seaman 1st Class Frank Hryniewicz of Three Rivers, Mass., who was 20 when he died with Goldwater aboard the USS Oklahoma in the Pearl Harbor attack.