Defense Department launches organization to account for all missing persons

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) will launch a new organization to help account for missing service members.

This new organization, which combines a number of existing agencies, will have complete oversight to account for missing personnel from America’s past conflicts.

In response to the announcement, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut called on the DOD to use this new organization to help identify the bodies of 22 service members who were killed aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

'Deserve a final resting place’

Murphy said he has asked the DOD multiple times for its assistance in helping the families of those lost aboard the USS Oklahoma provide their loved ones with a proper burial in their community, or a marked grave in a military cemetery in Hawaii.

“I’m confident that this new organization will help the DOD identify the missing sailors of the USS Oklahoma,” said Murphy, a first-term Democrat. “These heroes — who made the ultimate sacrifice — died protecting our great nation and deserve a final resting place of their families’ choosing.”

Four-hundred-and-twenty-nine sailors were killed when the USS Oklahoma was torpedoed by the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor. In 1943, when the Oklahoma was salvaged and raised, most of the remains of the sailors classified as “unknown” were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

For 70 years, the family members of these men have never been certain of the final resting place of their loved ones.

Provide ‘peace of mind'

“The DOD’s decision to create a new organization to help identify missing military personnel will give countless military families peace of mind,” said Murphy, who served in the U.S. House and state legislature before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012.

“By reorganizing this division of DOD, more members of the military who were lost in action can be identified and receive the respectful burial they deserve,” he said.