DENVER – A sailor who was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was reburied at a Colorado cemetery on Thursday, after his previously unknown remains were identified through DNA.
Wallace Eakes was buried with full military honors at Fort Logan National Cemetery. About 100 people, mostly veterans with no other connection Eakes in addition to their military service, laundry service, cemetery director Mat Williams said.
Eakes was a sailor on the USS Oklahoma when it was torpedoed and sank on Dec. 7, 1941. He was buried as an unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. His remains were identified last year by the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
His cousin and next of kin, Gary Eakes of Tacoma, Washington, said he was stunned by the news.
He decided to take his uncle’s body to be reburied in Colorado, because Eakes’ parents and sister had moved there from Kansas and are buried in a private cemetery in the Denver area.
“When I spoke with my grandparents (Wallace Eakes, the parents, they never said what they should do if they found him,” Gary Eakes said. “I’m just kind of hope that’s what they wanted. That is the best I could do.”
Eakes was born and raised in Caney, Kansas, and played on his high school football team, Gary Eakes said. He was a merchant, third class on the Oklahoma and was under the 429 sailors and Marines on board who died on the ship after it was hit by at least nine torpedoes.
The Oklahoma’s death, 388 were buried as unknowns in Honolulu. In 2015, the Pentagon unearthed their remains in the hope of identifying 80 percent of them. Some of the remains, especially that burnt to ashes, will never be identified.
So far, 135 identified and more than 70 were reburied in their hometowns.