Even though it’s been 82 years since the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, those who lost family members on December 7, 1941, continue to mourn the loss. Most of the 1,177 sailors and Marines killed in the attack on the USS Arizona went down with the ship and were never recovered. However, the remains of at least 85 (and possibly as many as 150) service members were recovered but not identified. They were buried, remains comingled, in graves at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.
DNA technology did not exist at the time to give the fallen a proper burial. The evolution of DNA technology has changed, and today surviving family members have banded together to form an organization. Operation 85 is a civilian effort led by family members of the unrecovered to assist the POW/MIA Defense Agency (DPAA) in acquiring DNA samples from living family members. They hope to identify the unrecovered and provide them with a proper burial.
Do you know someone who had a relative perish aboard the Arizona? We’re honoring the fallen this Memorial Day by spreading the word about the mission of Operation 85. Their goal is to identify the fallen before the 85th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 2026. The DPAA will provide DNA tests at no cost to participants. That DNA may provide the link to offer sailors like Bill Goodwin a proper burial.
William Arthur “Bill” Goodwin, 19, enlisted in the US Navy in 1940. The Denver native had endured many losses in his young life. His parents both died of tuberculosis, leaving Goodwin an orphan. Along with his brother Finley, the boys were placed in the Mount St. Vincent orphanage in Denver when Bill was just 2. Later, the boys were transferred to the J. K. Mullens Home for Boys in Fort Logan, Colorado.
Bill ran away when he was 16, and after working for the Civilian Conservations Corps, he decided to follow the lead of his older brother Finley and join the Navy. Bill was assigned to the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor.
On the morning of December 7, Bill was a seaman second class and assigned to Division 4 on the Arizona. His battle station was turret 4. When the Arizona was attacked, a massive explosion in the forward magazine killed many instantly, but Bill survived the blast. All but two men of Division 4 survived that day. The men mustered on the rear deck, and during the chaos, a senior officer asked for a volunteer willing to go below deck and flood the rear magazine. Bill volunteered for the dangerous mission. He did not survive.
William Arthur “Bill” Goodwin is honored on a cenotaph at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona at Cave Creek. Bill’s brother Finley (who later changed his name to Joseph Campbell) is also buried at the same cemetery. The brothers who grew up together, looking out for one another, are honored at the same final resting place.
If you are related to someone who served aboard the Arizona, here is how you can help. Visit the website for Operation 85 to learn more here. To learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, visit our Attack on Pearl Harbor Topic Page or search Newspapers.com™ today.