Edward Everette Talbert 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 August 5, 2021.
Edward Talbert was born on March 26, 1922 to Gurley and Dora Talbert in Stanly County, North Carolina. After graduating from New London High School, he enlisted in the United States Navy from New London, North Carolina. He was assigned as a Seaman, First Class, to the USS Oklahoma.
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. Talbert 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, 429, including Talbert, 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.
Talbert's parents was informed of their son's disappearance on December 20, 1941. On March 2, 1942, the Navy sent them a letter declaring his death. He was the first American in Stanly County to be killed in World War II. They were also given several of his possessions that were located after the attack. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. His name is featured in Row 4 of the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii. Additionally, in April of 1946, the Richfield-New London Veterans of Foreign Wars post was named Talbert-Wagoner, partly in his honor.
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 Talbert, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.
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 DPAA 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, Edward Everette Talbert was identified on August 5, 2021. His identification was announced on August 25, 2021.