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Release No: 921-03
December 08, 2003

Sailor Missing from WWII Identified

          A sailor missing in action from the attack on Pearl Harbor has been identified and returned to his family for burial.


          He is Fireman Second Class Payton L. Vanderpool, Jr., of Cowgill, Missouri.


          Vanderpool was aboard the USS Pennsylvania in dry dock at Pearl Harbor when the December 7, 1941 attack began.  The ship was hit by a Japanese bomb that penetrated the main deck and detonated below deck.  It was further damaged when a nearby destroyer, the USS Downes, exploded.  More than 50 sailors and marines died on the USS Pennsylvania.  Vanderpool was among six still missing after the attack.  In the days following the attack, burial details began to inter the dead, but his name does not appear on any cemetery burial ledgers.  He was presumed to have been killed in action and a military review board declared his remains to be non-recoverable.


          On December 9, 1941, the remains of an “unknown” sailor from the Pearl Harbor attack were interred at the Halawa Naval Cemetery on Oahu.  In September 1947 these remains were disinterred and examined by the staff at the Central Identification Laboratory, but they were unable to establish identification.  They were reburied at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, or Punchbowl, in 1949.


          In 2001 the laboratory obtained records that suggested these remains could be associated with an unknown sailor from the USS Pennsylvania.  The remains were exhumed in June 2003 and identified in September through skeletal analysis and dental records.

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