Identifying the USS Arizona’s Fallen After 82 Years!

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.

Smoke pours from the USS Arizona – The Baltimore Sun: December 7, 1941

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. 

Honolulu Star-Bulletin: December 7, 1941

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.

William Arthur “Bill” Goodwin

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™ today.

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4 thoughts on “Identifying the USS Arizona’s Fallen After 82 Years!

  1. Finally something is going to be done about this. So glad now that the loved ones will be able to bring back their loved ones. To be buried next to the dearly departed that have gone ahead. Thank you military soldiers for keeping America free. May they all Rest In Peace.

  2. Genetic genealogy is the answer. ( I sent a more detailed email direct on your main page ). This is like the Doe Project: The answer is simple. Anyone can find the relatives of these sailors, in a few minutes in the 1920 and/or the 1930 US Census. Takes me minutes. one can follow the census trail of the close relatives up to the 1950 Census. The rest is a small bit of real work and with lesser known tools like the phone book : ) Reconnecting the lost… My DNA ( atDNA, Y and Mt as well ) is shared internationally for this very purpose ( and my sole selfish purpose of finding other living cousins who HAVE tested ). I did this for free for the greater good. Concerning the world of atDNA, I have about 90,000 matches, mostly with’s test, but also have my raw results on My Heritage, FTDNA, LivingDNA, GEDmatch and even 23andme ( the latter I cannot recommend for genealogical purposes ). Of those 90K matches, more than 1100 are now placed appropriately and as private, in my huge tree. I search for genetic ancestors in common, a simple test, then work the reverse tree down to the living match. That match could be an unknowing relative to someone whose remains are not yet identified. I do this maybe twice a day in my spare time. It only seems like rocket science. Advice if you are reading this: Test yourself and the oldest representative of one parent still living ( OR THAT PARENT ), on AND build a small tree, or have a volunteer do it for you. A good genealogist can build a 4 generation tree for you in a day. Attach your DNA results to that tree. Keep the tree public. Not required if you have little interest in family genetic genealogy, BUT if you do, you can download your digital AncestyDNA results and upload ( often for free ) to FTDNA or My Heritage and/or GEDmatch…..for spectacular research tools. Magic happens. Yes, I so much want to help this project. I just gave you the road map. That is the road I follow. My father served in the Navy out of Pearl Harbor during WWII and just missed the attack by days. He’d be proud that I could serve the fallen in this way.

  3. Thank you for all your service. Keeping us safe in America there are no words that I can express how I feel rest in peace soldiers.

  4. I’m 2019 my Great Uncle, Robert Holmes (a few of his remains) were returned to us in Salt Lake City. We were able to welcome him home with a beautiful service and much happiness. Growing up, I heard many, many stories of ‘Uncle Bobby’ who was the youngest of eight children and my mother’s paternal uncle. I’m very grateful, as is my very large, family, to the new practice of genetic genealogy.

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