Inside the 80-Year Quest to Name Pearl Harbor’s Unknown Victims


The seven sailors point their rifles skyward and fire three times in unison, shattering the silence at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The military salute signifies the end of an 80-year-old mystery that traces back to Dec. 7, 1941, the beginning of America’s involvement in World War II.

Navy sailors Harold and William Trapp were presumed killed when their battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma was hit by Japanese torpedoes and capsized in Pearl Harbor. The Trapp family waited for weeks, months, then years as the military worked to find the brothers’ remains and send them home. But there were few intact bodies left in the water that day, and as time went on, the remains aboard the Oklahoma mixed together.

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