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Sailor from California killed at Pearl Harbor identified 81 years later

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency uses technology and records to identify remains and alert families about its findings.
Claude R. Garcia
Posted at 8:26 AM, Aug 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 10:26:14-04

Nearly 81 years since the day that lives in infamy, a sailor from Ventura, California, has officially been accounted for.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced on Wednesday, Aug. 17, that the remains of Navy Shipfitter 2nd Class Claude R. Garcia, who was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, were officially identified on May 12, 2022. The agency waited until it briefed Garcia's family on his identification, which happened recently, before making the announcement public.

Garcia was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was docked at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when Japanese aircraft attacked. The crew's quick counter-flooding measures stopped the ship from capsizing after several torpedoes hit it, according to DPAA's press release.

The USS West Virginia came to a rest on the shallow harbor floor. The Japanese attack killed 106 of the ship's crewmen, including Garcia, the release says.

Navy personnel at the time recovered the remains of at least 66 of the crewmen as they tried to salvage the USS West Virginia; however, many of the men couldn't be identified, including Garcia. Those men were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, which is also known as the Punchbowl.

The DPAA's mission to identify the crew members of the USS West Virginia dates back to June 2017. The agency worked with cemetery officials to disinter 35 caskets connected to the ship from the Punchbowl; those remains were transferred to the DPAA's laboratory for analysis.

The DPAA says its scientists used dental and anthropological analysis to identify Garcia's remains. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis to confirm the remains as Garcia's.

Now that Garcia has officially been identified, a rosette will be placed next to his name at the Courts of The Missing located at the Punchbowl, showing that he has finally been accounted for all these years later.

Garcia will be buried in his hometown of Ventura at a later date, but that has yet to be determined, the release says.

You can learn more about Garcia by viewing his personnel profile at this link.

This article was written by Pat Mueller for KGTV.