New Orleans, LA (KPEL News) - The family of an American Navy Mess Attendant from Louisiana who was killed in Pearl Harbor during World War II is preparing to receive his remains and give him a proper burial 82 years after his death.

Under the auspices of the United States Department of Defense, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency works in regions across the world to recover and identify military personnel and return them to their families. The DPAA website notes that there are more than 72,000 military members still unaccounted for who fought in World War II. The group works to bring home those who fought in all our nation's conflicts and gave their lives in service to our country.

Courtesy Staff Sgt Ariel Owings/ Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

They have been able to identify more than 280,000 Americans since the group's inception, and an additional 1,000 since their renewal in the 1970s.

According to their website, DPAA's mission is to:

Provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation.

One such American is Navy Mess Attendant 1st Class Ralph M. Boudreaux of New Orleans who was 20 years old when he was killed in Pearl Harbor.

On December 7, 1941, Boudreaux was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma. The ship was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor and was attacked by Japanese aircraft and sustained multiple torpedo hits. The ship capsized, and 429 crewmen, including Boudreaux, were killed.

Flag over remains
Courtesy Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

From that day until June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the crew members who were then buried in the Halawa and Nu'uanu Cemeteries in Hawaii.

In September of 1947, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) were given the duty to recover and identify fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater. They disinterred the remains and sent them to an identification laboratory, but they were only able to identify 35 men from the Oklahoma.

American remains returned
Courtesy Staff Sgt. Blake Gonzales/ Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

In October of 1949, a military board classified the ones who could not be identified at the time, including Boudreaux, as non-recoverable. The unidentified remains were then buried in what's known as the Punchbowl in Honolulu.

In 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for dental and anthropological analysis, as well as mitochondrial analysis.

In July of 2021, Boudreaux's remains were finally identified and accounted for.

Military analysis
Courtesy Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency


Boudreaux remembrance
Courtesy Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

His name appears in the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed by his name to indicate he is accounted for.

Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl,
Courtesy Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency

The information about Boudreaux's identification was released only recently, once the family had received their full briefing.

Boudreaux will be returned to his family and buried in Slidell on January 29, 2024.

Thank you, sir, for your sacrifice and service.

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Gallery Credit: Randy Bogden