George Merton Gooch was a United States Navy sailor who was was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on September 14, 2020 along with Alphard Owsley.
George Gooch was born to Linn and and Hulda Gooch on April 23, 1919 on Purdin, Missorui. The youngest of six siblings, Gooch joined the Navy at some point in his life. His service number was 3422506. At the time of his death, he was ranked Petty Officer Third Class and his specialty was Electrician's Mate Third Class.
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 torpedoed and was capsized. Gooch 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 Gooch, 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.
After his death, Gooch was awarded the Purple Heart.
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 Gooch, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.
Gooch's name is featured on the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing. An additional grave dedicated to him is in Block 1, Lot 46, Space A in Laclede Cemetery in Laclede, Missouri. Two spaces from it is a grave dedicated to his brother, Eugene, was killed in action in France in 1944.
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, George Merton Gooch was identified on September 14, 2020.