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Butler County Sailor Killed At Pearl Harbor Identified

sailor willard lawson
Courtesy of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency
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Navy Fireman 3rd Class Willard I. Lawson, 25, died during the attack on the USS Oklahoma.

The remains of a Navy sailor from Butler County stationed aboard the USS Oklahoma during World War II have been identified. Fireman Third Class Willard Irvin Lawson, 25, died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency reports.According to the Navy, Lawson was born in Butler County and grew up in Milton, Kentucky where he joined the Navy.

Family members were notified in Nov. 2018 that his remains had been identified and received a full briefing last week. He was identified using dental and anthropological analysis, the agency says, along with mitochondrial DNA.

Lawson will be buried April 27, 2019 at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Madison, Indiana.

His name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl. A rosette will be placed beside his name, indicating he's been accounted for.

Identifying The Fallen

The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits during the Dec. 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, causing it to capsize and killing 429 crewman, Lawson included.

The remains of the crew were initially buried in two cemeteries. In 1947, the remains were disinterred and 35 men where identified. The rest were reinterred at the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

In 2015, the Department of Defense created the the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), tasked with recovering and identifying missing personnel. The DPAA began exhuming remains at the Punchbowl that same year.

Last week, on March 8, 2019, the DPAA announced it had identified the 200th service member killed during the attack.