Leaman Robert Dill 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 4, 2021.

Background

Leaman Dill was born on June 15, 1916. At some point, Ferguson joined the United States Navy from South Dakota. He was assigned as a Electrician’s Mate, Second Class, of 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 Dill 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 Dill, 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, Dill was awarded the Purple Heart. He was memorialized on the USS Oklahoma Memorial and in Court 5 of the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Honolulu. He has an additional memorial marker at Section MB Site 77 at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota.

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 Dill, 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, Leaman Robert Dill was identified on January 4, 2021. His identification was announced on May 14, 2021.

Sources

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