Victim of 'infamy' attack interred in California

·2 min read

May 24—A seaman from Braggs whose identity was determined nearly seven decades after his death during the attack by Japan at Pearl Harbor arrived this past weekend at his final destination.

Duane Kyser said his uncle, Seaman 2nd Class D.T. Kyser, was finally home with his family. The Navy veteran was 18 years old when he and 428 crew members serving on the USS Oklahoma died on Dec. 7, 1941, attack at the U.S. naval base near Honolulu.

Kyser, who was born in Braggs and grew up in Muskogee, was interred Saturday in the veteran's section of Fresno (California) Memorial Gardens. His remains were buried next to his brother, Roy Kyser.

"We were planning on Fort Gibson, where his dad is buried, then the pandemic hit and we never got a date set," Duane Kyser said. "Then we had a chance to regroup and realized that we had no family, no relatives, not even a friend, in Oklahoma any longer — they're all out West."

D.T. Kyser enlisted July 8, 1941, in the U.S. Navy — just 11 weeks shy of his 18th birthday. He was received Sept. 8, 1941, on the USS Oklahoma.

"My grandmother had to sign a permission for him to join the Navy because he was underage," the younger Kyser said. "He celebrated his 18th birthday on the Oklahoma and died five weeks later."

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of crew members who died during the attack. In October 1949, a military board classified the unidentified remains as nonrecoverable, and Kyser's remains were among those interred in the Halawa and Nu'uanu cemeteries in Hawaii.

In 2019, U.S. Navy officials contacted Duane Kyser and his two sons, asking them to provide DNA samples to help them identify missing sailors aboard the USS Oklahoma. All three agreed, and D.T. Kyser was identified.

"Without the advances in DNA technology, he might have never been found," Kyser said.

Kyser said his sister frequently visits the Fresno cemetery to place flowers on her his father's grave. Now she can pay her respects to her uncle.

"The Navy was really good about this," Kyser said. "They gave him full military honors and sent a rear admiral out to officiate the ceremony."