Remains of Detroit seaman killed at Pearl Harbor ID'd

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — The remains of a top Navy sailor from Detroit, who was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II have been accounted for, a Defense Department agency announced Thursday.

First-class Navy Seaman Edward Wasielewski, 21, who died in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack was identified May 15, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said.

Edward Wasielewski

Wasielewski was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by a Japanese aircraft. 

The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits and quickly capsized, killing 429 crewmen, including Wasielewski.

Navy personnel worked to recover the remains of the crew from December 1941 to June 1944. The remains were interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu cemeteries in Hawaii, officials said.

Members of the American Graves Registration Services were tasked with recovering and identifying some members in September 1947. The group disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.

The capsized USS Oklahoma is at left, alongside the USS Maryland. Crewmen on the latter's stern are using fire hoses to try to push burning oil away from their ship. At right, oil fires shroud the sunken USS West Virginia and the USS Tennessee.

The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Wasielewski.

Officials re-examined the unknown remains between June and November 2015 and were able to identify Wasielewski through material evidence and noting that his name is recorded in court records.

Wasielewski will be buried on Feb. 21 in San Diego, officials said.

"DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Navy for their partnership in this mission," officials said in a release. "For family and funeral information, contact the Navy Casualty Office at (800) 443-9298."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_