The remains of a U.S. Navy sailor killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor nearly 80 years ago are due to return to the U.S. mainland Friday, arriving in the Inland Empire in preparation for burial at Riverside National Cemetery.
Signalman First Class Eugene Mitchell Skaggs, 33, of Ansted, West Virginia, perished when his ship, the U.S.S. Oklahoma, came under attack with four other battleships anchored at Pearl on Dec. 7, 1941.
In 2015, some of his remains were procured with other sailors as part of the U.S. POW/MIA Accounting Agency’s effort to identify servicemen who went down with their ships. They were later placed in the “Punchbowl” at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu.
Using DNA from his living relatives, pathologists were ultimately able to confirm Skaggs’ identity, leading to plans for his burial with honors.
According to the Cypress-based nonprofit Honoring Our Fallen, a “fallen hero procession” is scheduled after Skaggs’ casket arrives at Ontario International Airport Friday afternoon.
The organization is asking anyone interested in paying tribute to the sailor and his loved ones to take a place along the route from the airport, with flags in hand.
The hearse is slated to leave the terminal at 3:45 p.m. and will travel Haven Avenue southbound to the eastbound Pomona (60) Freeway, going through the 60/91/215 interchange in Riverside before transitioning onto southbound Interstate 215.
The procession will use Exit 14, going west on Ethanac Road in Menifee, then turning south onto Murrieta Road, ending at the Miller-Jones Mortuary, 26770 Murrieta Road.
Skaggs is scheduled for burial on Aug. 18. The service will be private.
According to Department of Defense officials, it’s unclear how the seaman died in the Japanese Imperial Navy bomb raid that claimed a total 2,335 American lives on the morning of Dec. 7. The U.S.S. Oklahoma was torpedoed and capsized.
Skaggs had previously been stationed at Long Beach, where he married his wife, Joanna Jameson Skaggs, in 1940. They had one child, Marie Elizabeth Skaggs, who is now 80 years old.
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