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Remains of 2 Portsmouth sailors killed in attack on Pearl Harbor accounted for

The remains of two Portsmouth sailors who died aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor have been accounted for, nearly 80 years later.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Editor's Note: The above video originally aired Dec. 7, 2020.

Two Virginia sailors who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor have been accounted for, nearly 80 years after the Japanese surprise attack brought the United States into World War II.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that 47-year-old Navy Ship's Cook 1st Class Rodger C. Butts was accounted for back in September of 2020, while 21-year-old Navy Mess Attendant 1st Class Octavius Mabine was accounted for that November.

The announcements came only after the families of the men received a full briefing on their identification. Both sailors are from Portsmouth, Virginia.

They were on board the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor when it capsized after being hit by multiple torpedoes on December 7, 1941. Butts and Mabine were among 429 of the ship's crewmen who died in the attack.

Credit: US Navy
Petty Officer Rodger C. Butts

The DPAA said the two sailors were originally among scores of the crew that the military could not identify, and they were eventually buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In 2015, the DPAA began exhuming USS Oklahoma crew members from the Punchbowl who had never been identified.

FROM 2015: Exhumation begins for unidentified remains from USS Oklahoma

Both Butts and Mabine were identified using anthropological analysis, as well as DNA analysis, the DPAA said.

The names of both Butts and Mabine are recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with other servicemen who are missing from WWII. The DPAA said a rosette will now be placed next to their names, indicating they have been accounted for.

Butts will be buried in Newtown, Pennsylvania, while Mabine will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date.

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