“With dignity, respect, care:” Remains from USS Oklahoma, which sank during Pearl Harbor to be exhumed

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(CNN) — Remains of up to nearly 400 unaccounted for service members tied to the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor will be exhumed this year, the Defense Department announced Tuesday.

The hope is that most of the battleship’s sailors and Marines can be identified.

“The secretary of defense and I will work tirelessly to ensure your loved one’s remains will be recovered, identified, and returned to you as expeditiously as possible, and we will do so with dignity, respect and care,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said in a statement. “While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible.”

The USS Oklahoma sank when it was hit by torpedoes on December 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. A total of 429 sailors and Marines on the ship were killed.

Thirty-five crew members were positively identified and buried in the years immediately after the attack, according to the Defense Department. By 1950, all unidentified remains were laid to rest as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Next of kin were being notified starting Tuesday. Service members who are identified will be returned to their families for burial, with full military honors.