On Saturday, at the Glen Haven Cemetery in Glen Burnie, the remains of a 19-year-old sailor who died when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor will be buried. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency last year identified the remains of the sailor that is flying into BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport on Thursday as Seaman 1st Class William Brooks. The sailor was born to the late William and Lillian Brooks on July 19, 1922. Military records indicate that he joined the Navy at 18 and went to boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. The 19-year-old from Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, was assigned to the USS Oklahoma at the time of his death. Japanese aircraft attacked the battleship on Dec. 7, 1941. A barrage of torpedos caused the ship to turn on its side and sink.
Brooks was amongst 429 crew members who were killed. The Navy spent the next 2.5 years recovering the remains of the sailors and burying them in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries A military board in 1949 classified those who could not be identified were buried in Hawaii and classified as non-recoverable, including Brooks. But, in 2015 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the unknown remains from the burial site known as the Punchbowl and used dental and anthropological analysis to identify Brooks. The Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis during the process. The lab analysis eventually helped officials identify Brooks on May 19, 2021. His obituary, which includes archival images of the USS Oklahoma can be found here.
Members of the public are invited to join Sailor Brooks’ survivors, which include nieces and nephews, at the cemetery this Saturday. Services are scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
Photo courtesy of Singleton Funeral Home