Flags at half staff for sailor who died at Pearl Harbor

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​​​​​​​FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered flags at all state buildings to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Saturday, May 29, in honor of a Kentucky sailor who was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but whose remains were only identified in December.

Navy Seaman 2nd Class Howard S. Magers, 18, of Merry Oaks, Kentucky, died in the attack on Dec. 7, 1941. Seaman Magers will be interred Saturday in Smiths Grove.

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All individuals, businesses, organizations, and government agencies are encouraged to join in this tribute of lowering the flag to honor Cpl. Hash. Additional flag status information is available at http://governor.ky.gov/flag-status.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced in April that Navy Seaman 2nd Class Howard S. Magers, 18, of Merry Oaks, Kentucky, killed during World War II, was accounted for on Dec. 17, 2020.

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

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 (AGRS) 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 Magers.

Between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.

To identify Magers’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Magers’ 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.