Another Casualty Identified From The Tragedy Of The USS Oklahoma

View of the capsized U.S. Navy battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor.
View of the capsized U.S. Navy battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Michael Galajdik was 25 when he died in World War II. His remains have been recovered and identified according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). They will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Galajdik had been assigned to the USS Oklahoma which was moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on December 7, 1941. The Oklahoma was hit by multiple torpedoes and sand quickly. 429 men died on board the Oklahoma, including Galajdik. Only the USS Arizona suffered as many fatalities in the Pearl Harbor attack.

Between December 1941 and June 1944, the US Navy worked to recover the remains of the deceased from the shipwreck. The remains were interred in Halawa and Nu’uana cemeteries, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reported.

In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains from those cemeteries and moved them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. At the time, personnel of the lab were able to identify 35 crewmen from the Oklahoma.

The unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In 1949, the crewmembers who had not been identified from the Oklahoma were classified non-recoverable – including Galajdik.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense ordered the disinterment of unknowns from the Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, the DPAA began recovering the remains for analysis.

Using mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis to match the remains to two of Galajdik’s nieces and one nephew, along with circumstantial and laboratory evidence, the DPAA was able to positively identify Galajdik.

Over 400,000 people who serve in WWII from the US died out of the 16 million total that served. There are still, at this time, 73,067 unaccounted for.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE