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Remains of Markesan sailor killed at Pearl Harbor identified

Navy Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Keefe R. Connolly.
Navy Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Keefe R. Connolly.(DPAA)
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 9:18 AM CDT
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MARKESAN, Wis. (WBAY) - The remains of a Markesan sailor killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor will be returned home for burial after positive identification.

Navy Hospital Apprentice 1st Class Keefe R. Connolly, 19, was accounted for on Feb. 11, 2021.

Connolly will be buried Nov. 8, 2021, in Markesan.

Connolly was assigned to the USS Oklahoma moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 7, 1941, the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The Oklahoma sustained several torpedo hits and it capsized.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says 429 crewmen died.

Navy personnel recovered the remains of the crew and interred them in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries in Hawaii. In 1947, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains and transferred them to the Central Identification Lab at Schofield Barracks. Staff there confirmed the identities of 35 men from the Oklahoma. The rest of the remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It’s known as the Punchbowl.

In 2015, DPAA exhumed remains from the Punchbowl. Scientists used dental, DNA and anthropological analysis to identify the remains.

Connolly’s name was added to the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl. A rosette will be placed near his name to show that he’s been accounted for.

Action 2 News recently reported on the identification of three brothers from New London who were killed at Pearl Harbor.

Action 2 News’ Jeff Alexander visited New London to learn more about Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcom J. Barber, Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber, and Navy Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber. They were aboard the USS Oklahoma on that day that will live in infamy, Dec. 7, 1941.

Their story had a big impact on Navy policy.

“Shortly before December 7, their father wrote a letter to the U.S. Navy saying, ‘hey, I really don’t like the idea of my three sons being on the same ship’ and asked to have them put on different ships,” explains Rusch. “After that, they [the Navy] never would allow brothers to go on the same ship anymore.”

The Barber brothers were recently laid to rest in New London.

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