The mission of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to exhume and identify unknown remains from the sinking of the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) continues to reunite families with their long-lost relatives. During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the United States suffered the loss of 2,403 lives. Many ships and aircraft were damaged, including the total destruction of the USS Arizona (BB39) and the USS Oklahoma. Men like Glenn Tipton were serving aboard Oklahoma when Japan’s bombers attacked her with torpedoes and, like hundreds of his fellow sailors, when the vessel capsized, his remains went with it.
The Unidentified Remains of the USS Oklahoma
During salvage and rescue operations, the remains of the Oklahoma crewmen who were trapped on board when their ship sank were brought ashore, though many were deemed unidentifiable based on their condition. Glenn Tipton was among those who were buried together in mass graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl Crater. The remains went unclaimed for decades, as the resources and technology available at the time didn’t allow for them to be identified and reunited with family. More than 76 years later, Tipton was finally identified among the remains of other Pearl Harbor casualties in the same mass grave.
As part of the DPAA”s five-year-plan to exhume and identify all sailors from the Oklahoma, Tipton’s remains were identified using DNA matching with that of members of his surviving family. In 2013, two years before the DPAA officially launched the program, Tipton’s family submitted DNA samples, hoping to finally bring their relative home. They waited patiently as the agency did its work. Five years later, they finally received the news they had hoped for: Tipton’s remains were finally identified and he would be making the return trip to the mainland for a proper burial and ceremony.
Glenn Tipton is one of dozens of sailors who have been sent back home after being exhumed and identified. Each is typically given a military escort back to their home town, or buried in a plot specified by their family in a ceremony attended by members of the US Navy. As we learn year after year, when it comes to Pearl Harbor, it’s never too late to reunite the brave men who gave everything during their service to the nation with the families they left behind.
Glenn Tipton Comes Home
Once his remains are returned home, a funeral ceremony is slated for June of 2018 at the Wings of Honor Museum in Walnut Ridge, AR. The DoD and DPAA expect the program to run until 2020 and are using all resources available to them to accomplish the task of clearing out the mass graves and sending the sailors of the USS Oklahoma home.