Joint Base Pearl Harbor-HickamCommunity

Home
//
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam
//
Community
//
Previously Unidentified Pearl Harbor Sailor Returned Home to Kansas After Nearly 78 Years

Previously Unidentified Pearl Harbor Sailor Returned Home to Kansas After Nearly 78 Years

Story by PO2 Justin Pacheco on 09/25/2019

Nearly 78 years after he died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941, Navy Seaman 2nd Class Wilbur Clayton Barrett was finally laid to rest in his hometown of El Dorado, Kansas, September 14.

Three-hundred and eighty Sailors and Marines, most unidentified, were lost aboard the Nevada-class battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in the attack. For several years after the USS Oklahoma capsized, Navy personnel worked to recover remains but only 35 individuals were identified. The rest were classified as non-recoverable and later interred on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma unknown Sailors for analysis, and, one-by-one, the remains were identified using advanced technology and DNA samples provided by the families of the deceased.

“He just came to Pearl Harbor to do a good job as a sailor, just like all of us do, and he fought, and fought hard,” littoral combat ship USS Wichita (LCS 13) Command Mass Chief Ryan King said at Thursday’s homecoming celebration. “Today we came here to honor his sacrifice, just like we do all of our service members that made the ultimate sacrifice like he did.”
Early Thursday afternoon, decades after the battleship he was stationed on sank in World War II, Barrett’s remains were flown into Wichita’s Eisenhower National Airport in preparation for his burial in El Dorado.
Barrett left Kansas for the first time in 1940 to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He served on the USS Oklahoma until December 7, 1941, the day the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii killed more than 2,400 Americans.

“Talking to Seaman Barrett’s family, I also learned something wonderful about his life he was in love,” said Lt. John Stevens, from the Navy Office of Community Outreach. “He wrote letters home, which his family donated to the local museum, and one of which talked about meeting someone in San Francisco before shipping to Hawaii back in 1940. They had the time of their lives, blew all their money, planned to get married after his tour on board the Oklahoma. His plans were tragically cut short, so it was bittersweet, but the impression it left on his family was that he got to experience love.”

“Sailors all service members, they deserve the same honors.” said King. “And Seaman Barrett deserved his honors.”

Recent Posts

NAVY FAMILY SERVICES

April 16, 2020

NAVY MEDICAL SERVICES

April 14, 2020

History

April 6, 2020

Air Force Units

April 2, 2020
Related Posts
work from home jobs for military spouseswork from home jobs for military spouses
Introduction This scenario might feel familiar: you spend months (or years) applying for a job, land a good…
4th of July Deals4th of July Deals
Introduction There are a lot of wonderful and inspiring national holidays throughout the year, but none so joyously,…
Fort Campbell KentuckyFort Campbell Kentucky
Introduction Welcome to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, home of the 101st Airborne Division, the 5th Special Forces Group, the…