Arlington Veteran's Remains Return Home Nearly 76 Years After Pearl Harbor

The remains of a North Texas sailor who died in the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are returning home.

George Anderson Coke Jr.'s remains were recently identified after his family provided DNA samples for testing, the Star-Telegram reported. Before then, his remains had been buried in a mass grave in Hawaii alongside other crewmen.

"You hear about it happening, but you just never think it's going to be your family," said Sherry Coke Dorn, about identifying her second cousin after 75 years. "That was overwhelming. I was so excited, it literally brought tears to my eyes because I could imagine he's finally home, where he should be."

The Arlington man went into service in early 1941 and served aboard the USS Oklahoma. Nearly 430 crewmen were killed after Japanese warplanes launched torpedoes at the ship on Dec. 7, 1941.

Coke was one of almost 50 young Arlington residents who went off to war but didn't come home, said Wanda Marshall, treasurer of the Arlington Historical Society.

"He was very patriotic and wanted to serve his country," Dorn said of Coke. "We need to know more about the stories of these young men."

In 2015, the Defense Department announced it would exhume the bodies of unidentified USS Oklahoma crew members and try to identify them.

Doland Maner is one of the few relatives left who knew Coke personally.

"We weren't buddies," the 94-year-old said. "But he was an all-American boy. He was into a lot of devilment, but if you didn't like George Anderson, you didn't like anybody."

Coke will have a public memorial service with full military honors Saturday. He'll be buried in Parkdale Cemetery, next to his parents George A. "Dutch" Coke Sr. and Julina Jane Tomlin Coke.

"It just gives you goose bumps that after all this time, he will be back in the hometown he loved and the people he loved," said Geraldine Mills, executive director of the Arlington Historical Society. "I think it is a fitting conclusion."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us