Minnesota sailor who died at Pearl Harbor to be buried in hometown this weekend

After more than 70 years, a Minnesota sailor is finally coming home.

Joseph M. Johnson of Rushford was serving on the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when it was attacked on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. Torpedoes from Japanese aircraft struck the ship, causing it to capsize. Johnson was among the 429 crewmen who were killed aboard the Oklahoma.

Many of the remains later recovered from the ship were unable to be identified with the technology available at the time. The unidentified remains were interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, marked as non-recoverable.

But in 2015, the deputy secretary of defense issued a policy memorandum, ordering the disinterment of the unidentified remains from the USS Oklahoma to attempt to establish their identity. With new developments in technology, scientists were able to match the DNA from some of the remains, including those of Johnson, to living family members.

Johnson will be reburied this Saturday with full military honors at Rushford Lutheran Cemetery in the southeastern Minnesota community.

He is the fifth recently identified USS Oklahoma sailor from Minnesota to return home. In May, a Mankato soldier was laid to rest at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

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