A previously 'unknown' sailor killed at Pearl Harbor is returned home 75 years later

Seaman 2nd Class Lewis Wagoner was the first of the Wagoner boys to join the Navy. He loved school, and cared deeply for others.

Pearl Harbor

Lewis Wagoner after joining the Navy. (AARP)

Read Now: See the intense Navy deck logs from the Pearl Harbor attack >

Lewis was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He died on the USS Oklahoma with 427 of his shipmates.

“It made life hard,” said his brother, Carl Wagoner. “To think about it.”

Seaman Wagoner’s remains could not be identified and were placed in mass graves with 393 other sailors. Generations of the Wagoner family have made the trip to Hawaii to see the memorial to those unidentified sailors and the names included on it.

“I was glad to see there was something,” said Lee Longaker, Lewis Wagoner’s niece. “But it was still empty as far as who’s really there.”

After decades, the POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the sailors from the Oklahoma and used new techniques to identify their remains. Luckily, Carl Wagoner was still alive to see his brother’s remains repatriated to their home in Haysville, Kansas in October 2016.

An Honor Guard at Lewis Wagoner's funeral, 75 years after his death. (AARP)

An Honor Guard at Lewis Wagoner’s funeral, 75 years after his death. (AARP)

AARP studios brings the story of Lewis Wagoner’s remains and his family’s efforts to bring him home in the video below.

“To have him come home actually, to be close to all of us, means a whole lot to them and to me,” says Mark Wagoner, Lewis Wagoner’s nephew. “Now I can show my children and tell my children what and who he was.”

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