Navy seaman killed during attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II to be buried in Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 16, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Nearly 80 years after his battleship was attacked at Pearl Harbor in World War II, Navy Seaman Russell O. Ufford will be honored with a burial at the Salisbury National Cemetery today.

Ufford, a 17-year-old Navy Seaman 2nd Class from Kansas City, Missouri, was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma at Fort Island, Pearl Harbor, when the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Pearl Harbor was the site of the U.S. Naval base located near Honolulu, Hawaii. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits before capsizing and killing 429 crew members.

For the next three years after the attack, the remains of some Navy personnel from the USS Oklahoma had been recovered and interred into national cemeteries located at Halawa and Nu’uanu, both in Hawaii. In 1947, those remains were excavated and transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks in Oahu, Hawaii. Only 35 were identified, and they joined another 46 unidentified veterans with burials at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the “Punchbowl,” in Honolulu.

Ufford, along with the other unidentified veterans, were labeled “non-recoverable” on the “Courts of the Missing” at the Punchbowl.

In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency excavated those burials at the Punchbowl and scientists used dental, anthropological and DNA analyses to identify the remains. In February, Ufford was fully accounted for by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

When American military personnel remain captive, missing or otherwise unaccounted-for after war, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency becomes the responsible agent for recovering them alive or recovering and identifying their remains. The agency estimates more than 81,900 Americans remain missing from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.

Following successful identification of a previously unaccounted-for veteran, the casualty office from the respective military branch then coordinates with the family to brief them on the findings and arrange for a funeral service. The families can then choose a hometown cemetery, a national cemetery or Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., for the burial ceremony.

The Salisbury National Cemetery told the Post families have the ultimate say on when and where the funeral takes place and how many can attend the ceremony. All veterans, regardless of awards, honors and medals, are granted the same burial ceremony. But families are not financially responsible for the costs of the transportation or the funeral.

Following Ufford’s burial, a rosette will be placed next to his name on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl to denote he has been fully accounted for.

Last week, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the remains of a Marine killed in 1950 during the Korean War had been identified. Pfc. Henry E. Ellis, a 22-year-old Marine from Roanoke, Virginia, will be interred in Salisbury’s National Cemetery on Aug. 23.

For more information about recovery efforts for those unaccounted for from past wars, visit www.dpaa.mil.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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