The 3 Barber brothers killed aboard the USS Oklahoma are accounted for

The 3 Barber brothers killed aboard the USS Oklahoma are accounted for
Navy Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber, 21, (on left), Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcolm J. Barber, 22, (center), and Navy Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber, 19, (on right) of New London, Wisconsin. Photo credit DPAA

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that brothers, Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcolm J. Barber, 22, Navy Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber, 21, and Navy Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber, 19, of New London, Wisconsin, killed during World War II, were accounted for on June 10, 2020.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the Barber brothers were assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including the Barber brothers.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.

The 3 Barber brothers killed aboard the USS Oklahoma are accounted for
A newspaper article about the death of the three Barber brothers at Pearl Harbor. Photo credit DPAa

The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including the Barber brothers.

Between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.

The Barber brothers’ names are recorded at the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to their names to indicate they have been accounted for.

For family and funeral information, contact the Navy Service Casualty office at (800) 443-9298.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Navy for their partnership in this mission.