GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Nearly 80 years after their deaths, the remains of two Southwest Michigan men who were aboard USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor have been accounted for.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency identified the remains of U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Wesley Graham, 21, of Watervliet on June 5 and those of Seaman 1st Class Joe Nightingale, 20, of Kalamazoo on Aug. 29.
The remains of both men will be returned to West Michigan to be buried at Fort Custer National Cemetery near Augusta — Graham on Oct. 27 and Nightingale on Dec. 7.
Some 429 people were killed when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed and capsized during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Officials spent the next three years recovering remains, but many could not be immediately identified. For decades, the federal government has been working to put names to all of the unknown sailors.
In 2015, they launched a new effort. Remains were exhumed and scientists used dental, anthropological and DNA analysis to try to identify them.
The remains of another sailor killed on the Oklahoma, Ensign Francis Flaherty of Charlotte, were identified in 2019. Flaherty was returned to Michigan last month for burial.
The DPAA has identified the remains of 352 previously unknown sailors and Marines who served aboard the Oklahoma. Forty-two sets of remains have not yet been identified.