Remains of WWII Seaman from Scammon accounted for after 80+ years

The American Flag waving in the wind.
The American Flag waving in the wind.
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 12:53 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced Wednesdaythat Navy Seaman 2nd Class Pete Turk, 20, of Scammonkilled during World War II, was accounted for on Oct. 1, 2021. Turk’s family only recently received their full briefing on his identification.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Turk was assigned to the battleship USS California, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS California sustained multiple torpedo and bomb hits, which caused it catch fire and slowly flood. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 104 crewmen, including Turk.

From December 1941 to April 1942, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. 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 39 men from the USS California at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified the 25 Unknowns who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Turk.

In 2018, DPAA personnel exhumed the 25 USS California Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.

To identify Turk’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Turk’s name is recorded on the Walls 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.

Turk will be buried Oct. 17, 2022, in Manhattan, Kansas. He is the first of the missing from the USS California to be accounted for.