Earl R. Melton, a 24-year-old sailor from Lakewood stationed on a battleship at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, finally received burial last week.
Melton was one of the first to die the day World War II began for the United States. But Melton’s body was never identified among the dead from the USS Oklahoma, one of the first battleships sunk just minutes after the Japanese surprise attack in Hawaii.
Melton, a machinist’s mate 1st class, was one of the 429 Americans killed on the Oklahoma, according to Military.com, a war history site.
But it took 76 years for Melton’s remains to be identified through DNA testing from the USS Oklahoma, which was sunk in the Japanese attack. Melton was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors June 28.
There are still 73,052 World War II servicemen who are unaccounted for, with about 26,000 remains deemed potentially recoverable.
Sgt. 1st Class Kristen Duus, a spokesman for the DPAA, said the agency works to identify fallen soldiers from World War II, Vietnam, Korea and the Cold War. In the fiscal year 2016, the DPAA identified 154 remains and has identified 99 in the fiscal year 2017.
“(Identifying these soldiers) is important because there is no man left behind,” Duus said. “It is our duty to bring them home to American soil.” Read more at Asbury Park Press.