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Herman Schmidt is 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 January 13, 2021.

Background

Herman Schmidt was born in Alexander, Kansas in the 1910s. He was the husband to Dorothy Gertrude Schmidt and living in Sheridan, Wyoming when he joined the United States Navy. He was assigned as a Gunner's Mate, Third Class, to the USS Oklahoma.

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, killing Schmidt in the process. 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 Schmidt, 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, Schmidt was awarded the Purple Heart. He was memorialized in Row 4 of the USS Oklahoma Memorial and at the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu.

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 Schmidt, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.

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 DPAA used anthropological analysis and scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome (Y-STR) analysis to identify the servicemen.

Through these methods, Herman Schmidt was identified on January 13, 2021. His identification was announced on August 10, 2021.

Sources

  • Multiple sources give his date of birth as between 1913-1919
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