William David "Bill" Tucker was a United States Navy sailor who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on December 3, 2020.

Background

"Bill" Tucker was born on February 2, 1922 to William Vigas Tucker and Agnes Mary Tucker in Osceola, Missouri. Growing up, he was the brother to four sisters. In 1939, he graduated from Bedford High School in Bedford, Iowa. He enlisted in the United States Navy on July 19, 1940, receiving his early training of about three months at the Great Lakes Navy Training Station. From there he was assigned to the USS Oklahoma as a Fireman, First Class. The last time his family saw him alive was when he was at leave in October of 1940.

Pearl Harbor

At about 7:48 AM on December 7, 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service conducted a surprise military strike against the United States at the naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The USS Oklahoma was one of the first ships to be attacked. The ship was torpedoed and capsized. Tucker was killed during the attack, though his exact circumstances are unknown. His remains were located between 1941 and 1944, but not identified. As a result, he was considered Missing in Action while his remains were buried in the Punchbowl at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Overall, 2,335 Americans were killed in the attack, four hundred and twenty-nine, including Tucker, were on the USS Oklahoma. The surprise attack led to US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to declare December 7, 1941, "a date which will live in infamy". The following day, the US Congress declared war on Japan which led to the United States' formal entry into World War II.

Aftermath

After his death, Tucker was awarded the Purple Heart. The same day he disappeared and was killed, his parents received a telegram from Washington D.C. that he was classified as missing. The Bedford community mourned for his loss, as he was also the first Bedford resident, and resident of Taylor County, Iowa, to die in World War II. A memorial service for him was conducted at the Bedford Church of Christ on March 22, 1942.

In September of 1947, the American Graves Registration Service was tasked to identify unknown soldier's remains from the Pacific Theatre. However, they were only able to identify thirty-five of the crewmen from the USS Oklahoma. In October of 1949, the American Graves Registration Service ruled Tucker, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.

His name is featured on the USS Oklahoma Memorial and in Court 2 of the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu, Hawaii. Additionally, he has a memorial marker at Fairview Cemetery at Bedford.

Identification

In 2015, the Department of Defense and the Defense POW/MIA accounting agency initiated a program to exhume the unidentified sailors of the USS Oklahoma to try and match their DNA against the DNA of family members whose loved ones were never identified. Scientists at the D.P.A.A. used anthropological analysis and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis to identify the servicemen.

Through these methods, William David "Bill" Tucker was identified on December 3, 2020. His identification was announced by the DPAA on May 20, 2021. He will be buried on June 30, 2021 in his hometown.

Sources

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