Boaz sailor killed during Pearl Harbor attack identified, will be buried in August

Alabama

Navy Fireman 2nd Class Ralph C. Battles was aboard the USS Oklahoma when the ship was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. (Photo courtesy DPAA)

BOAZ, Ala. – A sailor killed during the December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack has been identified and his body will be returning to Boaz to rest forever.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Thursday that Navy Fireman 2nd Class Ralph C. Battles, a Boaz native assigned to the USS Oklahoma, was identified Feb. 12.

During the attack, the USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused the battleship to quickly capsize. 429 Oklahoma crew members were killed, including Battles.

Navy personnel recovered the deceased crewmembers’ remains from Dec. 1941-Jun. 1944 and buried them in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries in Hawaii.

The American Graves Registration Service exhumed the remains in Sept. 1947 as part of a mission to identify fallen U.S. service members in the Pacific theater.

The remains were transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, however, lab staff at the time were only able to positively identify 35 of the 429 members aboard the Oklahoma.

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

A military board classified the unidentified remains as unrecoverable in Oct. 1949, including Battles.

More than 60 years later, between June and November 2015, DPAA exhumed the unidentified remains from the Punchbowl for further analysis.

DPAA scientists identified Battles using anthropological analysis, along with a combination of analyzing mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosome DNA.

A rosette will be placed next to Battles’s name on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl to indicate his body has been recovered and identified.

Battles will make the final journey home to Boaz and will be buried Aug. 28.

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