Centre County sailor killed at Pearl Harbor finally accounted for 80 years later

Local News

WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAJ) — A Navy Lt. Cmdr. from Centre County, Pa that was killed during World War II has been identified and accounted for, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced.

On Dec. 7, 1941, 43-year-old Hugh R. Alexander of Potters Mills was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. 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 Alexander.

He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions in saving the lives of several fellow crew members.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu`uanu Cemeteries.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred 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 only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Alexander.

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

To identify Alexander`s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

Lt. Cmdr. Alexander will be buried in San Diego. The date has yet to be determined. He was accounted for in Feb., but his family only recently received their full briefing on his identification, which is why the announcement waited until Dec.

For family and funeral information, contact the Navy Service Casualty office at (800) 443-9298.

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