LIBERTY, Miss. (WJTV) – The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that Navy Seaman 1st Class John R. Melton, 23, of Liberty, Mississippi, was accounted for on February 1, 2021.

Officials SAID Melton was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia on December 7, 1941, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS West Virginia sustained multiple torpedo hits, but timely counter-flooding measures taken by the crew prevented it from capsizing, and it came to rest on the shallow harbor floor. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 106 crewmen, including Melton. 

During efforts to salvage the USS West Virginia, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crewmen, representing at least 66 individuals. Those who could not be identified, including Melton, were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

Melton’s name is recorded in the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

To identify Melton’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.

Melton will be buried July 9, 2022, in Gloster, Mississippi.