A Corbin native who was one of more than 2,400 American service members killed when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, will finally be coming home.
Navy Machinist’s Mate First Class Ulis C. Steely was 25 years old when his ship, the battleship USS Oklahoma, capsized after suffering at least five torpedo hits in the attack by Japanese planes on the Hawaiian base.
In all, 429 members of the ship’s crew died that day.
Steely’s remains were recovered, but were unable to be positively identified. As a result, he was buried along with other unidentified victims of the attack in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
According to officials with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, in September 1947, the effort began to recover and identify fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater.
As part of that effort, the American Graves Registration Service relocated the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.
As a result, 35 of the unidentified Oklahoma crewmen became known.
The AGRS subsequently buried the remains left unidentified in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In 2015, the remains of the Oklahoma unknowns were again exhumed for DNA analysis.
On Nov. 14, 2018, Steely’s remains were positively identified.
The burial for Steely is scheduled for October 5.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,674 still unaccounted for from World War II, of which approximately 30,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable.