Joseph Warren Hoffman was a U.S. Navy Musician, First Class who was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on September 8, 2020.

Early Life

Joseph Hoffman was born on September 6, 1917, the second of three children, in Chillicothe, Ohio. At some point in his life, he joined the U.S. Navy in Ohio. His service number is 2795401.

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 Hoffman in the process. His remains were located, 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 Hoffman, 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, Hoffman was awarded the Purple Heart.

A grave for him was installed at the Greenfield Cemetery in Greenfield, Ohio.

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

On December 7, 2007, the USS Oklahoma Memorial was dedicated on Ford Island, Hawaii in the form of black granite walls and white marble standards. According to Find a Grave, "The white marble standards represent its lost sailors and Marines. Each perfectly aligned marble standard symbolizes an individual in pristine white dress uniform, inspired from the naval tradition of ‘manning the rails.' In full dress whites the ship's crew stand at attention along the rails or in the rigging of the ship to display respect and honor. The marble standards of this memorial stand perfectly straight, 'manning the rails' of the Oklahoma, forever." Shelden's marble standard is in Row 2.

Hoffman's name is also on the Honolulu Memorial's Courts of the Missing.

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 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, Joseph Warren Hoffman was identified on September 8, 2020. His identification was announced on September 11, 2020

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Sources

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