Wyoming Pearl Harbor casualty finally identified and honored

Wyoming Pearl Harbor
Herman Schmidt, Photo Courtesy: Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

Governor Mark Gordon has ordered both the U.S. and State of Wyoming flag be flown at half-staff statewide today in honor and memory of a World War II veteran who was killed in Pearl Harbor

Herman Schmidt from Sheridan was a U.S. Navy Gunner’s Mate Third Class who served on the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma.  On Dec. 7, 1941, the Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, was attacked by Japanese aircraft.


The ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Schmidt.

Identification of personnel was difficult

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in Hawaiian Cemeteries.

In 1947, members of the American Graves Registration Service were tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater. The service disinterred those remains and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Honolulu.

At that time, they were only able to confirm the identification of 35 men from the Oklahoma and they later buried the unidentified remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

New science results in identification

In 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified, including Schmidt, as non-recoverable. But, in 2015, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency personnel exhumed the unknown remains and used DNA testing and dental records to positively account for Schmidt.

He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Combat Action Ribbon, a Good Conduct Medal, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with Bronze Star), the American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. He will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery today, February 23rd.