Charles M. Stern Jr. was an ensign who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on March 21, 2019.

Early Life

Charles Stern Jr. was born to Charles M. and Emma J. Stern on March 10, 1915 in Albany, New York. On August 1, 1940, he enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve and was assigned to active duty on November 22, 1940. He was appointed ensign on February 28, 1941 and was assigned to the USS Oklahoma on April 9, 1941.

Pearl Harbor Attack

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 hit with torpedoes and capsized, killing Stern in the process. His remains were located, 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, 429, including Stern, 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

In 1943, the USS Stern, a Cannon-class destroyer escort, was built and named in honor of Stern. She served the U.S. Navy from 1943 to 1951 when it was sold to Netherlands. From there, it served the Royal Netherlands Navy from 1951 to 1967. She was scrapped in 1968.

In September 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 1949, the American Graves Registration Service ruled Stern Jr., along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.

Stern's name is on the Honolulu Memorial's Courts of the Missing on Court 2 and is on the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

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 autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis to identify the servicemen.

Through these methods, Charles M. Stern Jr. was identified on March 21, 2019.

Stern's remains arrived at Albany International Airport in Albany, NY on July 19, 2019 at 3:15 PM on a Delta flight from Atlanta, Georgia. His remains were eventually interred to the Beth Emeth Cemetery in Loudonville, New York with full military honors on July 21, 2019 at 2:00 PM.

Sources

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.