Kirby Stapleton

WASHINGTON, DC (KCTV) -- The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Navy Seaman 1st Class Kirby R. Stapleton, 24, of Chillicothe, MO, who was killed during World War II, has been accounted for.

Stapleton was accounted for on Aug. 27, 2018.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Stapleton was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Stapleton.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time.

The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Stapleton.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma.

On June 15, 2015, personnel began exhuming the remains for analysis.

To identify Stapleton’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.

Currently there are 72,744 still unaccounted for from World War II.

Stapleton’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

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