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US asked to ID 21 Pearl Harbor victims

The remains of 21 sailors killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor and buried as unknowns should be identified and returned to their families, a group of US senators said Thursday.

The sailors were aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, ripped open by as many as nine torpedoes.

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The remains of 27 sailors were classified as unknown and buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

In 2003, historian Ray Emory of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association used military records and personnel files to tentatively identify the men. Five were then definitively identified by the Central Identification Laboratory of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and their remains returned to their families.

Emory also tracked down family members of 21 of the remaining 22 sailors. In a letter sent Thursday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the group of 15 senators asked that those remains be exhumed and sent to a lab for identification.

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