The remains of an Iowa-born sailor who died during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor will be buried next month in his hometown of Exira, Iowa. Radio Iowa reports Eli Olsen was 23 and was serving aboard the USS Oklahoma as a Navy Storekeeper at the time the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. It quickly sank, and as a result of the attack on the ship 429 crewmen, including Olsen, perished.

Olsen was first Identified in 2017

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency first confirmed a proper identification of Olsen back in September 2017. Now, in September 2021, his remains will return to his hometown of Exira for proper burial. At the time of the attack in late 1941, Olsen's family received a telegram confirming the attack on his vessel. It wasn't until sometime in 1942 he was pronounced dead.

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The remains of the soldiers killed in the attack were later buried in a mass grave near the base. For decades this did not sit well with USS Oklahoma survivors and their families. Congress got involved and in 2015, all remains were removed. Thanks to modern DNA testing, many of the deceased were properly identified. As a result of the successful DNA testing, Eli Olsen's surviving family are able to honor his life and will soon be able to lay him to rest.

Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)
Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA)

To identify Olsen’s remains, scientists from Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and an Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used various forms of DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence to determine the identification of Eli Olsen. Exira, Iowa is located in southwestern Iowa, approximately 3 hours from Cedar Rapids and Waterloo.

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