People Swarm Graveyard to Honor Pearl Harbor Victim 

( After initial concerns that no one would show out to pay their respects to Navy sailor Herman Schmidt, who died in the Pearl Harbor sneak attack, but whose remains were just recently located, hundreds showed up to pay their respects. 

Schmidt, a native of Sheridan, Wyoming, died at age 28 when Japanese troops attacked American forces in Hawaii in an unexpected move. The USS Oklahoma, on which he served as a gunner, was struck by several torpedoes and bombed by enemy aircraft, killing 428 sailors. President Franklin D. Roosevelt described the assault on Pearl Harbor as a “day which will live in infamy,” Roosevelt later persuaded Congress to declare war on Japan, bringing the United States into World War II. 

According to a press release from the Defense POW/MIA Agency, DNA technology has progressed over the decades, which allowed officials to identify Schmidt’s remains. The Navy recovered the remains of crew members over the course of 3 years; however, they could only identify 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at the time. 

While serving his nation in Hawaii, Schmidt had to leave behind his wife and their young son, Michael Schmidt. Michael Schmidt, now 82 years old and in terrible health, said he would be unable to attend the father’s burial he never knew, which will take place on February 23 at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. 

Former WUSA-TV reporter and current PenFed Credit Union chief communications officer Andrea McCarren expressed online fear that no one would attend Herman Schmidt’s burial. However, she revealed on Thursday afternoon that more than 500 strangers gathered at Arlington to offer their respects for the World War II hero. On Thursday, Gov. Mark Gordon (R-WY) asked that flags be flown at half-staff in Wyoming, Schmidt’s home state, in honor of Schmidt.

More than 80,000 military members have gone missing in action, and the Defense Department expects that 38,000 will never be found. For example, in 2018, authorities from North Korea handed over 55 boxes holding the remains of US military personnel slain in the Korean War. These cases were then sent to a DNA analysis laboratory in Hawaii. 

Only around 1% of veterans of the Korean War and previous war have their DNA on file. Thus, the VFW has been advocating for the submission of DNA samples from Korean War veterans’ families to the Department of Defense. 

President Joe Biden said in a statement before the most recent National Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Recognition Day on September 16., that their bravery, selflessness, and ultimate sacrifice are commemorated now and forever.