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3 World War II service members ID'd 7 decades after death

By Danielle Haynes
3 World War II service members ID'd 7 decades after death
Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Alfred R. Sandini died Feb. 15, 1944. File Photo courtesy of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

April 1 (UPI) -- Scientists have identified the remains of three service members killed more than seven decades ago during World War II, including two sailors who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Defense Department announced Monday.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency named Navy Machinist's Mate 1st Class George Hanson, Navy Seaman 1st Class Herbert J. Poindexter and Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. Alfred R. Sandini using dental, anthropological and mitochondrial DNA analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence.

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Hanson, 32, of Laramie, Wyo., and Poindexter, 23, of Jacksonville, Fla., died Dec. 7, 1941, aboard the USS Oklahoma, which capsized after multiple torpedo hits at Pearl Harbor.

They were identified as part of a renewed effort to identify hundreds of sailors and Marines killed at Pearl Harbor and buried in unnamed graves. The DPAA began exhuming the remains in 2015 from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl.

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Both Hanson and Poindexter appear on the Wall of the Missing at the Punchbowl, where rosettes will be etched next to their names to indicate their identification. Poindexter is scheduled to be buried June 21 in his hometown.

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More than 2,400 people were killed in the Pearl Harbor attack that brought the United States into World War II.

Sandini, 25, of Marlborough, Mass., died Feb. 15, 1944, when the B-25C aircraft he was aboard crashed near the Do Len Bridge in Thanh Hoa province, French Indochina, present-day Vietnam. He was a radio gunner attached to the 22nd Bombardment Squadron, 341st Bombardment Group.

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His unidentified remains were interred at a mausoleum at the American Military Cemetery in Kunming, China.

The Department of Defense disinterred Sandini's remains in August and identified him using DNA evidence. Sandini appears on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, where a rosette will be etched next to his name to indicate his identification.

Also Monday, the DPAA said it has accounted for another missing-in-action World War II airman, Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Vincent J. Rogers, Jr. The B-24J bomber in which he was a passenger crashed shortly after takeoff on Jan. 21, 1944, at Hawkins Field, Helen Island, Tarawa Atoll, Gilbert Islands.

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He was attached to the 38th Bombardment Squadron, (Heavy), 30th Bombardment Group.

The DPAA offered no further details on how they accounted for Rogers.

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