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Nearly 80 years after death, World War II casualty from Kansas City identified

Russell Ufford was Navy seaman at Pearl Harbor
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Posted at 2:18 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 15:18:03-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A U.S. Navy seaman from Kansas City, Missouri, has been identified nearly 80 years after his death in service to his country.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) positively identified Russell Ufford, 17, on Feb. 11, according to a DPAA spokesperson.

Ufford was assigned to the USS Oklahoma when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft. He was one of the hundreds killed in a Japanese attack at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

After several torpedo hits, the Oklahoma capsized, killing 429 crewmen.

Over the next three years, Navy personnel worked to recover the seamen’s remains, which were interred in Hawaii.

The remains were disinterred in 1947 for identification purposes. At the time, laboratory staff were only able to identify 35 of the men.

The rest of the remains, including Ufford’s, were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

In 1949, the men’s remains that could not be identified were classified non-recoverable. But in 2015, the crew’s remains were exhumed for further analysis.

Using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis, scientists were able to identify Ufford.

He now is marked as accounted for at a grave site in Honolulu, where his name was among “Courts of the Missing.”

Officials are not aware of any relatives of Ufford’s still in the Kansas City area.

He will be buried on July 16 in Salisbury, North Carolina.