Harold Lee Dick is a United States sailor who was killed during the shelling of Tinian Island of the Northern Mariana Islands during the pre-invasion of Saipan Island while on duty on the USS Colorado. His remains were rediscovered on February 1948 and were not identified until November 26, 2018.
Harold Dick was born on February 22, 1922 in Tipton, Missouri to Lewis and Amanda Dick. The oldest of two their two children, he attended the local county schools. Friends and associated remembered him as a "manly youth" who was courteous, obliging, and painstaking in any duty he took.
On May 26, 1941, Dick joined the United States Navy from Tipton. His service number was 3376141. He held the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class with a specialty in Gunner's Mate 2nd Class and served on the USS Colorado.
On July 24, 1948, the USS Colorado was moored about three thousand and two hundred yards from the shore of Tinian Island of the Northern Mariana Islands. In the early morning, along with the light cruiser USS Cleveland and destroyers USS Remey and USS Norman Scott, the battleship commenced firing on the island as part of the pre-invasion plan of Saipan. Within two hours, a concealed Japanese shore battery opened fire on the USS Colorado and the USS Norman Scott. The first hit on the USS Colorado resulted in a heavy explosion, and the ship sustained extensive fragmentation damage. Forty-three men, including Dick, were killed, and one hundred and ninety-eight wounded by twenty-two shell hits from 150mm Japanese shore batteries. Nevertheless, the USS Colorado provided support for ground troops until the island was taken.
Dick's family was informed shortly after, but they were not given any information about the fate of his remains. His remains were among the thirty-nine of the forty-three men whose remains were recovered and were subsequently interred in the 4th Marine Division Cemetery on Saipan Island.
After his death, Dick was awarded the Purple Heart, the WWII Victory Medal, and the American Defense Medal. His name is also featured at the Courts of Missing at the Honolulu Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii.
On February 1948, the remains of those killed on the USS Colorado were disinterred as part of a larger operation by the American Graves Registration Service’s 9105th Technical Service Unit. While a majority were identified, nine of the remains, one of them being Dick's, were unidentified. While he was unidentified, he was referred to as "X-39." Five were eventually identified and the remaining four, one of them being X-39, were interred at the Manila American Memorial and Cemetery in the Philippines.
On October 18, 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the American Battle Monuments Commission exhumed X-39 sent him to the DPAA laboratory for analysis. Using dental and anthropological analysis and material and circumstantial evidence, as well as DNA evidence from Dick's sister, who passed away the year prior, and another relative, DPAA scientists identified X-39 as Harold Lee Dick on November 26, 2018.
Dick's remains were flown to Kansas City International Airport in Missouri on the afternoon of October 7, 2020 and escorted to Sedalia, Missouri by more than fifty Patriot Guard riders and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. His family held a funeral with full Naval military honors which included a horse-drawn carriage through town to the Masonic Cemetery at his hometown and a U.S. Air Force flyover at the Heckart Funeral Home in Sedalia on October 10, 2020. He is now buried with his parents and sister at the cemetery.