Bridgeport sailor, missing since Pearl Harbor attack, identified
BRIDGEPORT — A missing Bridgeport sailor who died in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor has finally been identified, the Defense Department announced Monday.
Navy Water Tender 1st Class Stephen Pepe, 43, who was on the USS Oklahoma when it was hit by Japanese torpedoes, has been identified through mitochondrial DNA analysis, anthropological analysis and material and circumstantial evidence. His remains are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
He will be will be buried Oct. 8 in Bourne, Mass., officials said.
The Oklahoma, moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft, sustained eight torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize, killing Pepe and 428 of his shipmates.
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the crew, which were interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. There are 72,813 still unaccounted for from World War II, including 943 from Connecticut. Most of the missing from World War II were either sailors and officers lost at sea or bomber crew members who were lost on missions over the ocean.
Pepe’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (also know as The Punchbowl), Honolulu, 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.
Launched in 1914, the Oklahoma was a 27,900-ton Nevada-class battleship, the first Navy ship of its size to use oil as fuel, as opposed to coal.