John Franklin Middleswart is a United States Marine who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on January 28, 2021. He is the three hundredth USS Oklahoma service member to be identified out of four hundred and twenty-nine.
John Middleswart was born on April 10, 1921 in Alton, Illinois to John H. and Dora Middleswart. The family moved to Peoria, Illinois in the 1930s. In 1940, Middleswart graduated from Woodruff High School in Peoria. On March 5, 1941, he joined the United States Marine Corps in Chicago, Illinois. He was considered an ideal candidate for the Marines, standing at six feet and two inches and weighing a hundred and sixty-four pounds. His service number was 305317.
After boot camp in San Diego, California, Middleswart was sent to Sea School then assigned to the Marine detachment aboard the USS Oklahoma. In October of 1941, he was promoted to Private First Class. The next month, his family moved to San Diego to work in the shipyards.
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. Middleswart was killed during the attack, though their exact circumstances are unknown. Their remains were located between 1941 and 1944, but not identified. As a result, they was considered Missing in Action while their 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, four hundred and twenty-nine, including Middleswart, 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.
Middleswart was awarded the Purple Heart after his death. His family was informed of his disappearance in relation to Pearl Harbor three weeks later after the attack. He was declared dead on February of 1942.
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 Middleswart, along with many soldiers whose remains were not identified, as unrecoverable.
His name is featured on the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Court 4 in Honolulu Memorial, Hawaii.
In 2009, Middleswart's sister and her sons provided their DNA to assist in his identification should his remains to be recovered. His sister hoped he would be identified before her death in 2015 at age ninety-eight.
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, John Franklin Middleswart was identified on January 28, 2021.