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Remains of Onawa, Iowa, native killed at Pearl Harbor identified
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Remains of Onawa, Iowa, native killed at Pearl Harbor identified

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ONAWA, Iowa -- Remains of a U.S. sailor born in Onawa who died on the battleship USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor have been identified.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, or DPAA, announced Monday that Navy Fireman 1st Class Claude Gowey, 20, was accounted for on Aug. 31.

Gowey was assigned to the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the U.S. fleet. The ship quickly capsized after being hit by several torpedoes during the attack, and 429 crewmen were killed.

Online records show that Gowey was born April 5, 1921, in Onawa to Claude and Julia Gowey.

The family farmed near Onawa until moving to Oregon in 1936, according to an interview with Gowey's lone surviving sibling, Rosella Workinger, that was published in the Albany (Oregon) Democrat-Herald on Dec. 2.

Workinger, 94, who lives in North Albany, Oregon, said her parents took a vacation to Oregon, loved the area, and moved to a farm there, the Democrat-Herald story said. Claude Gowey joined the Navy in 1939 and was assigned to the USS Oklahoma in February 1940.

"I remember him saying that he loved being in the Navy," Workinger told the Democrat-Herald.

According to the DPAA, remains of those killed on the USS Oklahoma were recovered from the ship from December 1941 to June 1944 and buried in cemeteries in Hawaii. In 1947, those remains were transferred to the Central Identification Laboratory, and 35 men were identified at that time. The remaining unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In April 2015, defense officials ordered those remains disinterred for identification using new DNA analysis technology.

Workinger told the Democrat-Herald that the Department of Defense asked her and her son to provide DNA samples about three years ago. They were informed earlier this month that Gowey's remains had been identified.

Gowey, whose brother Leslie also served in the Navy in World War II and returned home safely, will be buried in the spring at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, Workinger told the Democrat-Herald.

"We hope to do it when the cherry blossoms are blooming," she said.

Copyright 2018 The Sioux City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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