On June 26, 1940, Hubert Preston Hall, 18, came to Owensboro from his home in Cloverport to enlist in the U.S. Navy with hopes of learning a trade.

Three months later, he joined the crew of the USS Oklahoma, a battleship that had been launched in 1914.

On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Seaman Second Class Hall was below decks on the ship, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Suddenly, Japanese planes began filling the sky, bombs began falling and torpedoes came racing through the water.

Within minutes, the Oklahoma, a 27,900-ton ship, had been struck by several torpedoes.

The ship rolled over in about 50 feet of water and sank quickly, taking 429 crewmen, including Hall, who had turned 20 on July 18, to a watery grave.

It was the second of eight ships to sink that day.

Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. CDT, Hall and others who died on the Oklahoma will be laid to rest for the final time, with full military honors, in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific — also known as The Punchbowl — in Honolulu.

Information for this story comes for Navy records and the research of Lisa Hirano, a volunteer World War II and Korea casualty researcher.

Hall was apparently born in Floyd County to Melvin and Rosa Hall, his service records indicate.

When the attack on Pearl Harbor was over, Navy personnel began recovering bodies from the Oklahoma.

That took until June 1944.

The Oklahoma wasn’t righted until 1943.

Most of the dead — skeletonized and soaked in fuel oil — were recovered then.

The bones were jumbled and buried as unknowns in Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries in Hawaii.

In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service dug up the men of the Oklahoma to attempt to identify them.

But they were only able to identify 35 of them at the time.

The others, including Hall, were reburied in 46 plots at the Punchbowl about 1950.

Then, in June 2015, with better ways to identify bones, the military began exhuming the bones yet again.

The Navy announced in August that Hall’s remains had finally been identified — using “DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.”

A news release said there are still 72,652 people unaccounted for from World War II.

But about 30,000 of the remains are listed as “possibly recoverable.”

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301


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