Because the bugle fell silent on the fields of Arlington Nationwide Cemetery on a grey December Thursday, a heroic sailor was lastly laid to relaxation 82 years after his story and that of one of the crucial defining moments of American historical past grew to become intertwined.
The sailor was Seaman 1st Class James Ward. He was stationed aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Because the ship, holed by three aerial torpedoes, started to roll and sink within the bay, Ward remained at his 14″ gun turret holding a flashlight — an act of heroism that meant the remainder of the turret crew might see their approach to security however at the price of his personal life. His actions earned him the Medal of Honor.
Ward, who enlisted within the Navy nearly a yr previous to Pearl Harbor, grew to become certainly one of 5 Oklahoma sailors who can be honored for heroism and braveness for his or her actions on that day and certainly one of 16 Medal of Honor recipients associated to the assault. He additionally grew to become certainly one of 429 sailors — about one-third of the crew — who would perish on the USS Oklahoma.
After the Oklahoma was righted in 1944 after spending three years on its aspect, Ward was among the many 388 sailors and Marines whose stays couldn’t be recognized. Unsuccessful makes an attempt to establish any of the stays in 1947 led to the Oklahoma service members being buried on the Nationwide Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific as unknowns till a 2015 Protection Division effort noticed them exhumed for the ultimate time.
Richard Hannah, 67, who’s Ward’s nephew and closest residing relative, informed Navy.com on Thursday that “the method from  ahead has been arduous, fascinating, and simply outstanding that they’ll do this.”
In 2021, the Protection POW/MIA Accounting Company (DPAA) was capable of positively establish Ward’s stays utilizing fashionable dental and anthropological evaluation, in addition to DNA testing.
Hannah mentioned that his grandparents did not speak concerning the sailor a lot however “the Navy had a really good portrait executed of him, and so they had that up in the home.”
“I feel they might have been very proud,” Hannah mentioned, earlier than including that he chalks up the shortage of household dialog to a form of humility that he is been informed will not be unusual for that era. “I feel if you happen to would ask most of these of us from that point interval, and even as we speak, they do not see themselves as heroes.”
Among the many honors that Ward was given since his actions at Pearl Harbor was turning into the namesake of a destroyer escort in 1943. In 2015, the Springfield Metropolis College District additionally named Ward an Alumni of Distinction.
When it got here time to make the preparations for the funeral, the Navy’s mortuary affairs workplace took nice pains to make sure Ward’s stays can be buried with the honors he deserved.
Petty Officer Lawson Reynolds informed Navy.com in an interview that he and the remainder of the employees from that workplace made positive there was a uniform to bury Ward in and “we labored the method to get the Medal of Honor.”
Reynolds was moved by Ward’s heroism and selfless actions, and he volunteered to be the escort for the stays.
“I had the Medal of Honor that I had carried from Millington, Tennessee, to the contracted funeral house in Omaha, Nebraska, who bought the stays from DPAA,” Reynolds defined, earlier than including that he was the one who had the glory of laying the Medal of Honor within the casket. “It was very emotional, with the ability to put that on and know that it’s going to all the time be with him, he’s lastly being laid to relaxation with what he deserves for his service to this nation and his fellow service members.”
A Navy press launch mentioned that Adm. Lisa Franchetti, the Navy’s prime officer, introduced Ward’s household with a alternative Medal of Honor medal on the ceremony, in addition to a Medal of Honor Flag and a replica of Ward’s quotation forward of the funeral.
From there, Reynolds escorted the casket to Washington, D.C., and volunteered to remain for the funeral “to point out my respect for the service member and to only see the method from starting to finish.”
At Arlington, Ward was accorded full army honors. His casket carried up a hill deep contained in the cemetery accompanied by the Previous Guard and Navy Band. Earlier than the ceremony, 4 F/A-18 Tremendous Hornets carried out a flyover in a lacking man formation — an aerial salute the place one aircraft peels off from the group to suggest a misplaced service member — over Ward’s grave web site.
Among the many attendees had been Franchetti herself; Vice Adm. Johnny Wolfe Jr., the officer who would current the flag to the Ward household; in addition to the Navy’s prime enlisted official, Grasp Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James Honea; and two Medal of Honor recipients.
After the ceremony, Hannah mentioned that he was additionally moved by the eye the Navy had given his uncle — particularly Franchetti’s attendance.
“Having the primary feminine admiral, the highest rating command officer in the USA Navy, a part of the Joint Chiefs of Workers, the primary girl in historical past, being there was extremely … that was very touching,” he mentioned.
After identification of Ward, there have been 33 units of unknown stays left from the unique 388, with the DPAA concluding that it would not presently have the know-how to establish them.
On Dec. 7, 2021, on the eightieth anniversary of the assault on Pearl Harbor, these last 33 sailors had been reinterred on the Nationwide Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Since then, nevertheless, yet one more sailor has been recognized.
Associated: Pearl Harbor, Day of Infamy