Members of the public are invited to a reception on Saturday, June 1 to honor a 19-year-old League City sailor who died in the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and whose remains were recently identified using DNA analysis.
Navy Seaman 2nd Class Richard J. Thomson will be interred at Fairview Cemetery on North Kansas at 1 p.m. The City of League City, in conjunction with The Fairview Cemetery Group and the League City Historical Society, will host a reception at the League City Recreation Center on 400 West Walker immediately following the burial.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Thomson was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Thomson.
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries. In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks.
The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Thomson.
In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknown remains from the Punchbowl for analysis. In 2019, scientists from the DPAA collaborated with the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System to use anthropological and DNA analysis to officially identify Thomson and subsequently notify his family.
Thomson’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette has been placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.