The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that Marine Pfc. Walter L. Collier, 20, of Burbank, California, killed during World War II, had been accounted for on May 25, 2021.
According to the DPAA, even though Collier’s remains were identified back in May this year his family only recently received their full briefing on his identification, which is why the information is now being released publicly.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Collier 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 Collier.
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, members of the American Graves Registration Service tasked with recovering and identifying fallen US personnel in the Pacific Theater disinterred the remains of US 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 Collier.
Between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.
To identify Collier’s remains, DPAA scientists used anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.
Collier’s name is recorded on the Courts 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.
The DPAA stated that Collier’s remains will be buried on Dec. 8 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.