The memory and sacrifice of Navy Musician 1st Class Henri Clay Mason, of Iowa, killed during the attack on the USS Oklahoma in World War II will be honored on Tuesday May 28th, 2019 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA),Musician First Class Henri Clay Mason, killed during World War II, was accounted for on June 4, 2018.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Mason was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft.
“Almost certainly present on deck that morning [to play colors, was] Musician 1st Class Henri Clay Mason…
As they prepared to play, another band member saw strange planes approaching. Then he heard explosions, and then over the PA system the alarm: “Air Raid!” according to a history of the ship by author Jeff Phister.
Some musicians ran for cover and survived.
Mason and [eleven] other band members were killed, according to Phister and records in the National Archives. Their bodies were never identified.” ~ The Washington Post
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 Mason.
Only 35 of the dead Oklahoma crewmen were able to be identified immediately after the attack, which killed 2,402 in all and debilitated the U.S. Pacific Fleet for a time.
In 1947, after the Navy had spent nearly three years salvaging the Oklahoma, including pulling human remains from it and burying them, the American Graves Registration Service disinterred those remains but was unable to identify any new crewmen.
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. (Source: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA))
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,866 (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Mason’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Mason’s personnel profile can be viewed here.
Not stopping with the Oklahoma…
The 388 sailors and Marines with the Oklahoma who were listed as unknown at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific are are among thousands of unknowns buried there, including some who also perished during the attack on Pearl Harbor, but since 2015, officials with the the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency have been working on a new policy to recover and identify remains of the unknown, relying on extensive research on family history, along with obtaining medical and dental records, and DNA technology, according to KHON2.
“We’re going to start with the USS Oklahoma, but we will also be looking at other unknown graves to determine if they are eligible for disinterment in the future,” Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan told KHON2.