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by Walter Wright
Advertiser Staff Writer
Markers: Arizona Shipmates Identified
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U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink, cemetary director Gene Castagnetti and Pearl Harbor historian Ray Emory at Punchbowl.

New Marker.
Mouse-over for marker with NO name of ship, branch of service, mention of WWII, date of death.
Verbatim from article November 5, 2001
 
     Seventy new Pearl Harbor headstones were unveiled at Punchbowl yesterday, letting the world know that the unknown remains are those of 124 shipmates from the USS Arizona.
     U.S. Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii), who wrote the legislation ordering the new inscriptions on the headstones, said the military has known since the infamous Japanese attack where the remains came from, if not whose they were.
     But when the bones were brought to the National Memorial Cemetary of the Pacific at Punchbowl when it opened in 1949, they were put into graves marked only "Unknown, Dec. 7, 1941."
 
      Many survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor have felt for years that the label was inadequate for sailors who gave their lives for their country, despite that the names of all 2,341 people killed in the attack are on identified graves or carved into the Carrara marble of the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial at the cemetery.
     And some officials, including cemetery director Gene Castagnetti, had worried that putting additional historical information on the headstones would set bad precedent and dim the dignity associated with the simple "unknown" designation.

     But advocates of the change would not be stilled.
     Mink credited Ray Emory, Pearl Harbor Survivors Association chief historian, and Lorraine Marks-Haislip, historian for the USS Arizona Reunion Association, with doing the research and fighting for years to bring about the change.
     But much of the credit, it appears, should also go to a U.S. Army officer identified yesterday only as Colonel Stewart.
     It was he, Mink said yesterday, who three years ago abruptly sent Mink "this flatout letter saying, 'This is the last letter we are going to reply to you, lady. We are tired of your correspondence on this issue.'"
     Mink said she was so irritated by the letter that she wove it into a speech she gave at the 1999 ceremony at the Arizona Memorial. "I said, 'I'm not going to take it any more and they are going to hear from me by legislative edict,'" she recalled.
     "It was the last straw. If he had been a little more patient with me, or given me more runaround, I would probably still be writing letters."
     But the colonel underestimated the fury of a congresswoman scorned, and Mink "wrote a little paragraph in the big military authorization bill" last year.
     The words "USS Arizona" were irresistible, she said.
     "I didn't have to do much lobbying. It's probably the fastest that anything ever got through Congress: I put it in in March and it became law in September."      And Mink isn't finished.
     Emory says there are other remains in the same situation, nearly 400 of them from sailors aboard the USS Oklahoma, and from other ships or posts in the harbor on that bloody day.
     Mink said that with the precedent set by the Arizona case, she hopes the Army and the Veterans Administration will see fit on their own initiative to add to the other headstones the known ships from which unknown remains in other Punchbowl plots have come.
     If the Army doesn't act, she said, she has assurances that Congress will again.

 

Copyright 2002-2015 Lorraine Marks-Haislip