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81 years later, Pearl Harbor hero from Portsmouth to be laid to rest

A Pearl Harbor sailor originally from Portsmouth will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery after DNA positively identified his remains.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — After more than eight decades, there will finally be some closure for the family of a local sailor killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, which brought the United States into World War II.

On the "date which will live in infamy" -- December 7th, 1941 -- USS Oklahoma was among the first U.S. warships hit by attacking Japanese forces at Pearl Harbor when the first wave of aircraft struck the battleship with three aerial torpedoes.

In all, 429 Oklahoma sailors lost their lives. Among the fallen: 21-year-old Mess Attendant First Class Octavius Mabine of Portsmouth.

For 79 years, Mabine was officially listed as unaccounted for. But in October of 2021, scientists at the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) successfully extracted DNA from his remains and made a positive match.

On Friday, he will be interred alongside more than 400,000 of America's greatest military heroes at Arlington National Cemetery.

"It's just a scientific wonder that they could develop these scientific technologies to make a match after all these years," said his nephew, Bruce Mabine.

Bruce was born 10 years after his uncle's untimely death and is his closest living descendant. He may have never known Octavius, but he is still proud.

"It's extremely meaningful," he said. "For me and my son, it's extremely extraordinary. So, it's a great way to always keep his memory alive."

According to the POW-MIA Accounting Office, more than 81,000 American troops remain missing from all wars and conflicts dating back to World War II. In 2015, the DPAA began exhuming USS Oklahoma crew members who had never been identified.

Mabine's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at Honolulu's National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, along with other servicemen who are missing from WWII. The DPAA said a rosette will be placed next to his name, indicating that it accounted for him.

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