Rodger Cornelius Butts was a United States Navy sailor, Navy Ship's Cook 1st Class, who was was killed on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. His remains were identified on September 28, 2020 along with Charles Jones, Shelby Treadway, and Bernard Wimmer.

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 capsized. Butts was killed during the attack, though his exact circumstances are unknown. 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 Butts, 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.

Butts' name is featured on the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Honolulu Memorial of the Courts of the Missing in Court 5. He was also awarded the Purple Heart.

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, Rodger Butts was identified on September 28, 2020.

Sources

Footnotes

  1. The DPAA states his age to be 47. His Find a Grave pages state his age was 43 to 44.
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