Johnson City sailor killed during attack on Pearl Harbor to be returned home, buried in August 2021

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Photo: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A Johnson City native and U.S. Navy Fireman killed during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has been accounted for and will be returned home.

According to a release from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Navy Fireman 1st Class Paul E. Saylor, of Johnson City, will be laid to rest in his hometown on August 20, 2021.

Saylor, 21 at the time of his death, was assigned to the USS Oklahoma when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941, the release states.

DPAA reports Saylor was one of the 429 crewmen killed when the USS Oklahoma capsized.

“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,” the release states.

In 1947, the American Graves Registration Service “disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.”

Only 35 identities of men from the USS Oklahoma were identified in 1947. The rest were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, referred to as the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

Those who had not yet been identified were classified as “non-recoverable” by a 1949 military board, DPAA reports.

However, in 2015, the DPAA began exhuming the remains from the USS Oklahoma in the Punchbowl for analysis.

DPAA states that Saylor’s remains were identified using “anthropological analysis” and “mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.”

According to the release, Saylor’s name is among those recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl. Since he has been accounted for, a rosette will be added next to his name.

Anyone wishing to learn about Saylor’s funeral information is asked to call the Navy Service Casualty office at (800) 443-9298.

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