Connecticut senator wants Punchbowl remains returned to families - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Connecticut senator wants Punchbowl remains returned to families

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy has sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, concerning remains of 22 sailors who died aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. They are buried in three graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.

"We have heard from confused and concerned constituents that the Navy is considering plans to bury these deceased service members in a mass grave on Ford Island," Murphy wrote.

Murphy said the plan is "troubling and disconcerting."

"They have no intention of identifying anybody," Tom Gray said.

Gray spoke with Hawaii News Now from his home in Guilford, CT.  He is convinced one grave holds the remains of his relative Edwin Hopkins, who was a sailor on the Oklahoma. He wants Hopkins' remains identified and sent home.

"We want him to be buried with his mother and father. They actually have a stone in the family plot in Keene, New Hampshire, where we're all from. His name is already on that stone," Gray said.

He said Hopkins remains are in grave number 1003. Like the two other graves in question, it's marked unknown. The sailors died when Japan torpedoed the ship on Dec. 7, 1941.

Gray said he has heard the Navy wants the mass grave to be at the site of the USS Oklahoma Memorial. The Navy Office of Information did not respond to a call for comment.

"The brave men who died protecting our great nation at Pearl Harbor deserve a final resting place of their families' choosing," Murphy wrote.

"Not everybody wants them home," Gray said. "Some people want them to have their own grave in the Punchbowl cemetery. But they want them marked with their proper name."

Hopkins was 19 when he died. Gray said records pinpoint where his remains rest. He hopes the Navy abandons the idea of moving those remains from one mass grave to another.

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