Navy Ensign Verfi D. Sederstrom was 25 when he died on board the USS Oklahoma. The Oklahoma was attacked on December 7, 1941, by Japanese forces. It was hit by several torpedoes and sank quickly. 429 crewmen were killed on the Oklahoma, more than any other vessel in that attack except the USS Arizona.
From December 1941 to June 1944, the US Navy recovered the remains of sailors from the Oklahoma. Those sailors were buried in Halawa and Nu’uana Cemeteries.
In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) began disinterring the remains of sailors from the Oklahoma in order to identify them. The remains were transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. 35 sailors were identified from the remains at that time. The remainder were buried in National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In 1949, the sailors who had not been identified were classified as non-recoverable.
In April of 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense ordered the remains to be disinterred in order to make another attempt at identifying the sailors from the Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, the DPAA began exhuming the remains and analyzing them.
Using mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, personnel from the DPAA and the Armed Forced DNA Identification Laboratory were able to match Sederstrom’s remains to two nieces and a nephew. With that information and circumstantial and laboratory evidence, the DPAA was able to positively identify the remains of Sederstrom. They will be returned to his family for a proper burial with full military honors, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported.
16 million Americans served in WWII. Over 400,000 of them died. There are currently, 76,065 Americans that have still not been accounted for from that war.