DNA testing brings Pearl Harbor victim home after 77 years

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - December 7, 1941 may be a date which will live in infamy, but December 7, 2018 will be a date that will bring closure to a family that's been waiting for nearly 80 years.

The 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor took more than 2,000 lives; many victims were never recovered. Among those missing was 24-year-old Durell Wade.

The north Mississippi native had skipped college to enlist in the Navy at an office in New Orleans. He was serving as an aviation machinist on the USS Oklahoma when the attack began.

For more than 75 years, Wade was just a memory shared by family members in stories and letters. His nephew, Larry Durell Wade, was born a year after the attack.

"I have his name and my grandson has his name, so it's in three generations of family. Still, Uncle Durell was just an idea from Pearl Harbor," said Wade, a retired psychiatrist living in Baton Rouge.

However, a few years ago, Wade's surviving family received news that his remains may have been recovered. They submitted DNA for testing and in the spring, they learned it was a match. Their lost sailor had been found.

"Never expected anything like this," said Wade.

On Thursday, the American Legion Post 38 in Baton Rouge played host to Dr. Wade, his daughter, and government officials to finalize paperwork for the return of Wade's body.

"Finally, being able to put him to rest, which I'm sure his parents and siblings would have wanted to do, I'm just glad we can do that," said Lauren McAdams.

Wade's final resting place will be The North Mississippi Veterans' Memorial Park in Kilmichael, Mississippi. Reinternment ceremonies are planned for December 7, the 77th anniversary of the attack.

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