Mississippi sailor returns home 77 years after attack on Pearl Harbor

VIDEO: Mississippi Sailor returns home 77 years after attack on Pearl Harbor

KILMICHAEL, MS (WLBT) - More than 2,000 Americans were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor 77 years ago Friday. Science and technology have allowed for many of the “unaccounted for” sailors to be identified in recent years.

Aviation Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Durell Wade, 24, of Calhoun County had just recently written home telling family about being in line for a promotion, but instead of a follow-up celebration letter, this is what his half-sister remembers.

Durell Wade will have his remains flown back to the state of Mississippi and buried in the veterans cemetery.
Durell Wade will have his remains flown back to the state of Mississippi and buried in the veterans cemetery.

“We heard it on this battery radio that we had," explained Wade’s half-sister Nancy Jaffe. "My uncle was there and heard the news that they had bombed Pearl Harbor. My family waited and waited for news from Durell.”

429 crewmen were killed when the U.S.S. Oklahoma was hit by torpedoes and capsized. The Navy recovered the remains but weren’t able to identify all of them at the time. Wade’s family first received a false alarm that Durell had been identified.

“And later we got another telegram that said it was a B. Wade and not a D. Wade and then we didn’t hear anything else," recalled Jaffe. "And I remember how Christmases were bad. That Christmas was bad. All the older kids came home. I have vivid memories of that.”

Now, they’re getting the closure they long ago counted nearly impossible.

“When I got the call, I thought oh my word, my daddy lived his whole life waiting to get a call like this," said Jaffe. "And then I thought, girl, they’re in heaven.”

Wade’s homecoming was accompanied with full military honors and his final resting place will be among others who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country at the North Mississippi Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Kilmichael, Mississippi.

“But my faith tells me that that day before the twinkling of an eye, Durell Wade was walking the streets of glory,” Governor Phil Bryant said.

The interment service is only possible because of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s work. Wade is one of nearly 200 U.S.S. Oklahoma crewmen who have been identified since 2015 using DNA analysis and other techniques.

“Durell Wade, we honor your sacrifice," added Bryant. "We hope you will accept this from the heart of a grateful nation.”

“You stand relieved shipmate," said Captain Brian S. Horstman, Commanding Officer at Naval Air Station Meridian. "We have the watch.”

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