Texas sailor onboard USS Oklahoma accounted for from World War II

Navy Fireman 1st Class James O. McDonald
Posted at 9:31 AM, Oct 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 10:31:41-04

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A sailor who was killed during World War II was accounted for on Dec. 22, 2020, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

25-year-old Navy Fireman 1st Class James O. McDonald of Levelland, Texas was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft.

The USS Oklahoma capsized quickly after sustaining multiple torpedo hits which killed 429 crewmen, including McDonald.

Navy personnel recovered remains of the crew from Dec. 1941 to June 1944 and were interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

Members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains in Sept. 1947 and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks to identify the fallen U.S. personnel.

At that time, laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identities of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma.

The AGRS buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In Oct. 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including McDonald.

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

Scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis to identify McDonald's remains. Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System also used mitochondrial DNA analysis.

McDonald's name is on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl and a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

McDonald will be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu on Jan. 19, 2022.

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

To view McDonald’s personnel profile go to the DPAA website.