The telegram arrived on a cold January day in 1942. It read, “After an exhaustive search, it has been found impossible to locate your son, Robert Edwin Kline, gunner’s mate, second class, U.S. Navy.” The sailor’s mother refused to accept the news and continued to hold out hope. How could it be? Bobby was just 22. Robert Edwin Kline was one of 1,177 sailors and Marines killed in the attack on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Most of the sailors killed aboard the Arizona went down with the ship. However, the bodies of 85 (and possibly as many as 150) were buried, their remains unidentified and comingled, in graves at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. More than eight decades later, Kevin Kline, Robert Kline’s great-nephew, is among those leading an effort to identify the fallen. He is the driving force behind Operation 85 – a civilian effort led by family members of the unrecovered to assist the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) in acquiring DNA samples from surviving family members.
DNA technology did not exist in the 1940s, but more recent advances now make it possible to identify those previously unknown. That’s where Operation 85 comes in. They are facilitating the effort to find surviving family members and connecting them with the DPAA to take a DNA test. The DPAA administers the DNA tests at no cost to participants.
Operation 85 hopes to collect at least 643 family DNA samples within the next two years. They hope that by December 7, 2026, the 85th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the project will be classified as a “Working Priority” within the DPAA, leading to proper identification and the reburial of remains in a marked grave.
How can you help? If you are related to someone who served aboard the Arizona, visit Operation 85 here to learn more. We can’t think of a better way to honor the fallen this Memorial Day than to help provide a properly identified final resting place.
Explore the names on the wall of the USS Arizona Memorial in our free interactive collection on Fold3®. Leave a photograph or story and learn more about those who made the ultimate sacrifice at Pearl Harbor. Visit Operation 85 to learn more about their mission, and search Fold3® today to learn more about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
I remember Pearl Harbor. My Dad was Army Air Force stationed in Savannah. We were out for a Sunday afternoon drive and people kept waving at our cat because of the military sticker We learned what happened. A couple of months later he was sent to Australia and later New Guinea. He came home some two years later.
Was your father assigned to the 3rd Bomb Group at Hunter AAF?
Jenny and who ever wrote the headline concerning this important article for Ancestry/ Folds.
Jenney’s article title is just fine. But the title for the email promoting Memorial Day and especially those who died on the USS Arizona is a slap in the face to all veterans and especially those who served in the United States Navy and Marines.
Please note title writer: NO SOLDIERS died on the Arizona. There are no remains for SOLDIERS on the Arizona. Naval personnel are NOT called soldiers by a tradition older than the US Constitution. Sailors and very possibly Marines is the proper, respectful description for those young men who died on Dec. 7 1941
I caught that, too and thought it was pretty insensitive of FOLD 3 to make such a careless blunder, especially since they used the correct terms in the article. A little advance proofreading can go a long way.
Richard, thanks so much for bringing that to our attention. We’ve corrected the mistake in the email headline.
As the mother of a U. S. Marine, also daughter and ex-wife of Marines, I appreciate that you cleared up what Naval and Marine Corps servicemen were called!
The teenagers who are in charge of the Internet don’t know any better because of their “woke” teachers. Sad, sad, sad.
@Carl Sell – I see that you think it is ok to cast aspersions on young people and those you view as “woke” (I assume you are using this interchangeably with liberal). I live within walking distance of the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery and you’d be surprised how many people *of all ages* accidentally use the word soldiers instead of sailors. The email header was incorrect and they fixed it promptly when the issue was brought to their attention.
I hope that your comment was successful and you feel better about yourself now that you have belittled people that you see as less than yourself.
Let’s think about this for a minute. If the remains of (85-150) need to be identified through DNA then that tells me that they want to make sure that they belong to the right family. Nothing wrong with that at all, but exactly how do they know that all of those buried there have descendants to submit DNA samples. I’m sure they’ll do what they can, but why not use the available DNA from from Ancestry, and many other sites. These have been used to locate families of many missing persons by law enforcement, etc. Of those buried in the National Cemetery there there is no way to know if they were all servicemen or women, some may have been civilians.
Another thought is how can anyone presume to know that there was no one aboard the USS Arizona except Navy personnel. How could you possibly know that there was not one Marine, Soldier, Guardsman, Airman or even a civilian aboard the ship. Common sense tells us that the majority would have been Sailors assigned to the ship. Others branches could have been visiting, perhaps even civilians and clergymen.
Regardless, we need to remember the servicemen and women who died in the service of our country on Memorial Day. This Marine’s daughter gives thanks for their sacrifice and is thankful for all those who served this great nation.
Memorial Day is about all who have fallen. In service to our country, so yes sailors and even Marines.
My father was to have been on the USS Arizona but he was held back on the mainland due to the necessity for some dental work. In his place was George Hollowell who perished on the ship that fateful day. I wish to say God Bless to the Hollowell family and my family is so incredibly sorry for your loss.
If I had been in a similar situation, I would have no doubt been hit really hard with survivor’s guilt. That is a pretty gut-wrenching experience.
This is phenomenal! I have no personal connection to the USS ARIZONA other than having visited the Memorial a few times in my life. My dad and uncles and a female 2nd cousin all went into the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, they all returned home alive! I’m so glad that this work is being undertaken to identify those souls who died in this catastrophic event. Kudos to Operation 88!
I have no known relationship to those who died on the Arizona. We lived in Nuuanu for 18 months and frequently walked in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Very sobering to note unidentified. We lived there just as DNA was beginning – and hope it will help find those who need to be recognized. Thank you for doing this.
My Uncle Warren Guy Heckendorn was on the USS Arizona. There were members of our family who always hoped that somehow he had survived but totally did not remember who he was. However, other members said that Uncle Warren Guy was on the ship either firing guns or down below deck close to the smoke stack where a bomb went down. I would gladly share my DNA to see if his remains were buried on the soil or he’s still on the USS Arizona. When we visited the USS Arizona we felt his presence below us as we stood on the Memorial platform. Am thankful that this program has been developed.
Hi Julia, I’m sure Operation 85 would love to connect with you. Please visit this Family Member page to fill out a DNA submission form: https://ussarizona.navy/family-members/
My uncle was an Army Air Force Captain and was sent to DC from San Antonio TX to be shipped out. He asked his girlfriend to come there and get married before he left. I have a copy of their marriage cert. which shows they were being married while Pearl Harbor was attacked. My aunt told me when he realized it, he cried.
Just a thank you for doing this. My WWII ancestors were nowhere near Pearl Harbor that day, but I’ll share this on my social media.
We just visited the Arizona Memorial in February. What an incredible experience. I applaud the efforts to identify the sailors. God bless your dedication.
My dad and father in law were both veterans of WWII. My wife and I are both Army vets and my wife is retired from the Army. We were both raised with a deep reverence for the heroes of WWII and their sacrifices. After retiring, my wife arranged a trip to Hawaii and we visited the Arizona memorial at Pearle, what an experience. I bought a baseball hat from the bookstore there and wear it often. I thank those brave souls who died during the epic battle that forced us into the war. God bless the warriors who still stand their posts on that storied ship, BB 39 on their eternal vigil.
As far as I know, we didn’t have anyone aboard the Arizona. However, some of us who have done a DNA test have joined Gedmatch and have a number supplied by that site. We could give our number to this project if it would help to identify the remains.
Thank you so much, Joanne, however the DPAA relies on their own DNA tests to identify the fallen.
I too was raised to revere all the fallen on that horrible day and all those who gave their lives to preserve our freedom. Both my parents were in the Navy WWII, both grandfathers WWI
and I was raised in the military. May we never forget.
My father was stationed at Scofield Barracks. His brother was in the Navy and stationed at Pearl Harbor but not on the Arizona. Both survived the attack. I’m trying to learn more about Dads service since his records were among those lost in the fire in the 1970s
My cousin was Joe Rose, from Kentucky.!! He gave his life serving our country.‘ thank you Joe.
My father was regular Army and had arrived in Honolulu just shortly before the bombing, I have no idea which ship he was transported on, but I have seen his id card that was issued by the Honolulu PD and had heard that he was in the city and part of the rescue and clean-up after the bombing was over. It was not something he talked about and sadly he died before I was smart enough to ask any questions.
I have been to the memorial and found it to be one of two deeply spiritual experiences of my life, the other being the Gettysburg battlefield.
My maternal uncle, Robert Louis Walters, a Sailor, was aboard a ship in the area when the attack on Pearl Harbor happened. He once told me of the water burning as the sailors tried to swim to safety. My paternal uncle, Clifford Ralph Wadsworth, was a Marine, was stationed at a base near where the Arizona was docked. He told me of how they had to run for cover as the low flying Japanese military aircraft strafed them. My parents honored their brothers and named their first son after these two uncles. I wish I could remember more, but being so young when I heard the stories I’ve forgotten some of the details.
Brenda, I encourage you to reach out on the Operation 85 website and fill out a family submission form. They would love to hear from you. https://ussarizona.navy/family-members/
I’m not directly connected to anyone that was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. When I think about the terror that the service men and women experienced that day I get chills. My heart breaks for them and their loved ones that they were forced to leave behind. Even though none of my family were there my family has a story that is closely related to that horrifying day.
My grandfather Frances Stall was a farmer in southern California for most of his life. I’m not sure if he said anything of what he knew to authorities but he and my grandmother did tell their children who in turn passed it on to the generations that followed. While my grandparents grew, harvested and distributed food so did a handful of japanese immigrants that lived in the same area. As time past my grandfather noticed something strange about the crops his Japanese neighbors were growing. Their crops didn’t look like any other crops in the area . The shapes of their crops were not square like. So grandpa got closer to see if they were doing something different that was making the crops grow better and when he realized what he was looking at his blood ran cold. The Japanese farmers were growing vegetation in the shape of arrows all pointing in the same direction. They weren’t farmers at all. They were members of the Japanese military and their arrows made of vegetation were for their fighter pilots coming to bomb Pearl Harbor as a navigation tool. After December 7th my grandmother, who was an avid collector of art, pottery and figurines from the Orient through every piece of her collection into the garbage. We don’t know the value of that collection but grandma said that some pieces were very old and very valuable but that didn’t matter to her on amd after December 7th, 1941. As I reminisce about the story when I was hearing it I can vaguely remember that grandpa did make an attempt to notify someone that was in charge of getting information where it needed to go but it was too late, Pearl Harbor was already under attack. Grandpa’s farm was located right outside of San Diego California and I believe that had Camp Pendleton existed at that time grandpa’s very important information would have got to the Naval Commanders in time to at least warn of the imminent attack. Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor grandpa and grandma packed up the kids and all their belongings including the trailer they lived in and the memories of the attack on Pearl Harbor that followed, moved up to Riverside County where they lived out the rest of their lives.
To the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles, grandmas, grandpas, wives, husbands, and cousins that are looking to finally bring their loved one that perished that day home for a proper salute and burial. I am truly and deeply sorry for your loss and pray that you are successful in finding them so that they can finally rest in peace and you can be at peace.
I’m confused. Since your grandfather was a farmer in Southern California, how would arrows pointing toward Pearl Harbor, which is in Hawaii, over 2500 miles apart and Japanese fighters coming from Japan or from aircraft carriers to the west of Honolulu, be of any use to Japanese fighter pilots?
I’m sorry, but the arrow story doesn’t make sense.
At this point a brother to Fred Zimmerman is still alive. If his body has not been actually identified you may be able to reach his brother Frank Zimmerman in FL. Let me know if you need this assistance. You have my email and I will try to get you together with the family member. Dianna
Thank you Dianna. I’m sure Operation 85 would love to connect with the brother of Fred Zimmerman. There is a family submission form on their site. You can also reach out to them and I’m sure they would love to connect with you: https://ussarizona.navy/family-members/
Is there something that non-family members can do to help the project. Perhaps contact local news channels and asking if they could do a piece on the news about the project. My father was stationed in San Diego he shipped out for Pearl Harbor and arrived on Christmas Eve. Thank you for your efforts on the Sailors and Marines. Is there anything else that we can do to help.
This should be made shareable to other social platforms. ( I am on mobile, on desktop site it may be). I would love to get the news to other folks that this may affect but can’t seem to find a way to do that
I did not have any family members serving on the USS Arizona, but if I had, I would be first in line to give a DNA sample.
I think you need to advertise this “Operation 85” project on a larger scale.
Have you considered contacting any of the major news networks? Possibly setting-up some type of televised interview on NBC, CNN, PBS, etc?
My husband’s and my visit to the USS Arizona memorial was particularly meaningful because family lore has it that my cousin David Lempert was a forensic dentist on the original team that tried to identify victims of the Pearl Harbor attack. My heart goes out to family members who will benefit from Project 85.
I believe you are responding to my original post, if not, please excuse. First there is a complete roster of those AUTHORIZED to aboard the Arizona and / or member of the crew at the time of the attack. Many were on shore leave at the time of the attack so it took weeks if not months to compile an accurate list of those aboard when the ship was attacked. Today we have lists of those missing, wounded and dead. We also have a list of crew. You are partially right as there were some civilians aboard some of the ships in port on that fateful day. They were contractors during updates and repairs. To my knowledge, there were none such aboard the Arizona. If you read my post, I did mention the need to properly identify the personnel of the Navy and the Marine Corps.
This battleship, like all other larger fighting ships, had naval officers- chaplains who were serving officers. The Arizona should have had at least two. Unless something has changed in the recent years, there were no civilians onboard and all were under the Navy / Marine Corps.
The unfortunately very common error of mislabeling these men- and they were all male- as soldiers was sufficient to cause a bar fight in Dec. 1941. I believe the spirits of these patriots would be offended and, today, it is a common mistake of the younger generations who have not been taught anything positive about their nation’s history.
The mistake has been corrected so all is good except we are still face generations of Americans who have no exposure of our history. That is really not their fault. Rather, we older Americans are the ones have allowed this. I commend the author of this piece and those who are attempting to find closure through DNA testing for the families of the fallen veterans. It is a noble and really thankless task. I have tried to be apolitical here because politics have other places to be debated. But the fact is most younger people today have little exposure, other than their families, about the events of World War II and beyond. I hope my post provided a bit of education about our veterans. And BTW, I am an Army Veteran with the greatest respect for our Sailors, Marines, Airforce& Coastguard Veterans.
I am a white, female, liberal, Democrat, member of a large union – and a teacher. I teach my students to love and respect their flag and country even if they also find aspects to criticize. Your critic, above, should come sit in my classroom for a few days while I teach about the Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc. My students have read these documents Has he?
Why don’t you reply directly to me. I was not criticizing the poster, just supplying facts. You seem, like another previous poster make this political. I am very glad you teach American Government / Civics. DO YOU explain multiple points of views basics of those views? You might want to check with your “union”. Many studies show courses of studies we “Both?” believe are important: history, political science, etc. are taught less & less in American schools. Polling shows young persons do not know even the most basic facts. But they know Columbus was evil…….. You probably can figure out my opinion of what your teachers union is doing to American youth. Go to a beach, a festival a carnival. Engage the kids. Just listen to them. It is sad and they are being manipulated.
My father was one of the first rescue teams to reach the USS Arizona on Dec 7, 1941. My father was 18 years old and was on the USS Argonne at 10/10 dock. He told many stories of pulling bodies out of the water, even three weeks later. God Bless all those that died that terrible morning. I hope that families of the USS Arizona will be able to finally locate their loved ones and finally have some closure.
Are they going to exhume the unidentified and co-mingled remains, and take DNA samples from them? Is it really so important to descendants to know whether their ancestor is buried in the cemetery or entombed on the Arizona?
I don’t know of any other way to get DNA samples without doing that, and I’m glad you asked the question. Some may prefer to have their loved ones stay where they are and others may want them brought home. My Great-Great Grandmother had her son disinterred after WWI and brought home to be buried with other family members.
Excellent article, post correction, with one small nit to pick. Kevin Kline is Robert Kline’s grandnephew; there is no such person as a great-nephew.
Yes, there are numerous professional sources for the use of great-nephew, including Cambridge English Dictionary. It is the son of one’s niece or nephew.
Again, two nations divided by a common language! These examples are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
chiefly British -ˈnev-
: a grandson of one’s brother or sister
chiefly British -ˈnev-
MY MOTHERS BROTHER ,WAS WILLIAM TEASEDALE DURHAM HE WAS ON THE ARRIZONA- MY GRANDFATHER WENT AND RECOVERED HIS REMAINS HE IS BURRIED IN CHATHAM COUNTY ,NORTH CAROLINA – BUT THEY TO ARE ALL AT REST NOW AND I AM NOW 73 YEARS OLD I WAS NOT EVEN BORN THEN .
I understand that many people had very strong negative feelings against the Japanese because of their WWII actions. But one has to ask: Have you ever actually looked at a map of the Pacific? How could you possibly believe your family story that crop arrows in Southern California were pointing Japanese pilots to Hawaii? On this planet?
I grew up near San Diego and in Hawaii. Some of my best friends in San Diego were the children of Japanese American farmers whose families had been here for longer than most other Californians. They had been interred in concentration camps right here in America all during the war. I surely hope that you will give better thought to that improbable family fable and more respect to the hundreds of thousands of multi-generational Japanese Americans who are Americans. Btw: my father’s family is all German but none of them on the East coast were interred in concentration camps during the war And they are all just called Americans.
Read my next post for the rest of my Pearl Harbor story.
Exactly! Before I had read your post, I had pointed out the same thing. Geographic knowledge is woefully inadequate, especially in the U.S..
It seems to me that most people over the age of about 12 would absorb such basic information about the alignment of California, the Pacific Ocean and Japan just by breathing whether they had any formal exposure to geography in school. I commend this lady for her unwavering loyalty to her grandparents. The absurdity of the story is heartbreaking though because it defies common sense, logic and any questioning of its veracity. It is also heartbreaking because there is way too much of that these days. Her closing paragraph reaching out to all of the family members touched by the USS Arizona was lovely and touching.
This is my USS Arizona story.
My dad, Retired Chief Conrad Nagengast joined the Navy in 1938. His first assignment was to the USS Indianapolis on which he served for the next 4+ years including taking President Roosevelt on his tour to South America. He and my dad made their first crossing of the equator together. FDR’s King Neptune initiation was to hand sign certificates for each of the 1200 crewmen. We still have my dad’s. He served on that ship until some time after Pearl Harbor when experienced sailors were needed for newly commissioned ships. If he had stayed on the Indy for the duration of the war I wouldn’t be telling this story. Many of us know the story that the Indy and her class of ships were all sent out of Pearl Harbor a few days before the bombing. My dad told the story of returning to Pearl 4 days later and seeing the utter devastation. The harbor still burning.
My dad was on sea duty for 18 of his 20 years service — those last 2 years running the boat house on Ford Island. This was the first time, after 5 children, that my dad had shore duty and we could be together as a family. Those were a magical two years on Ford Island from 1953 to 1955 — before Hawaii was a state, before there was a bridge to Oahu and before the Arizona memorial was built. I took a boat and three buses to get to kindergarten. The Arizona was less than 1/4 mile from where we lived. Our four flat can be seen in the aerial photos of the bombing. One of the first things my dad did after we arrived on Ford Island was to request the use of the Admiral’s gig to take our family out to the superstructure of the Arizona that was still jutting out of the water. We stood on the wooden platform built around that smoke stack and looked solemnly and reverently down into the water and what we could see of the ship. At the age of five I knew very well that we were standing over 1200 bodies of sailors, that that was sacred revered space. I also remember seeing the hull of the USS Utah upended on the other side of Ford Island — it was still there. As a child I knew that men had survived in that hull for days as recovered crews frantically tried to free them. They could not get to them in time. All these decades later I remember that day and its profound effect on my life. As a very young child I knew what the Arizona and the Utah meant. I knew. I know now. I have no family members on the Arizona but if my soul had DNA it would tell.
Thank you, for speaking out and for telling your story.
Both my maternal uncles served the Navy during WWII. One in Alaska after Japanese attackd there and the other was at sea on a destroyer when the Pearl Harbor attack happened. A maternal great uncle was a Sub Commander at sea during the attack and his wife (my Aunt) was at their home in Honolulu. On my paternal side my father and his brothers proudly served in Europe. My dad saw battles at Ramagen and was in Bastogne Dec 20 to 26 1944. Fortunately all came home safe! We are proud grandparents of USAF members today!
A neighbor of ours was a small boy at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His father was commandant of the naval hospital. As it was Sunday they were following their tradition of sitting on the front steps of the house, where his father would read the funny papers to him. A flight of low-flying aircraft captured their attention, and his father observed “those Air Corps boys are taking their training seriously, they’ve even painted their aircraft to look like Jap fighters!” Our neighbor said that as soon as they heard the bombs dropping, his dad took him and their Hawaiian maid to the basement of the house, telling them both to stay there, as he was going to the hospital to prepare for incoming wounded. Later, his dad said the first challenge was got set up effective triage. The physicians, who had never previously worked combat medicine, were initially inclined to suture wounds with cosmetic perfections, as if they were plastic surgeons. It didn’t take them long, though, to learn to address “bleeding, breathing, and shock” and then to move on to the next patient. Our neighbor said the events of that day remained with him all his life. I certainly believe it!
My uncle, Johnny Viteri, enlisted after Pearl Harbor. He was killed two days before VJ day on Okinawa. He had some friends on the Arizona. I always remember the sacrifice many have paid for our fredom.
By finding the dna in water aren’t you disturbing their resting place?
Hi Marjorie, there will be no remains disturbed in the water. The hope is to identify those who are buried in mass graves marked as Unknown.
I don’t know if Kenneth Geer was officially identified as a dead on the Arizona just known to be dead. As I understand my Geer family isn’t a direct connection to his Geer side but there’s a Geer Family Association.
My Uncle Frank Floege was a member of the ships band manning the power magazines under gun turret two below deck I believe. This is right where the bomb went down killing all of the members of the ships band. I doubt any remains survived, but I wouldn’t mind submitting dna.
Gusti, the DPAA will collect DNA from any Arizona family member. It will help with the identification process for the unknowns. You can visit this link for more information: https://ussarizona.navy/family-members/
My uncle WALTER H. COLE was chief radio man on that ship my grandmother got news that he came up MIA he had just got married about 2 months before this happen i wish i could have got some information on him i wander who got his purple heart i know his wife jenny cox did remarry can maybe someone help me get some information or how to get it.
My mother’s younger brother Henry Ochoski was a gunners mate on the Arizona. He was 21 yrs old. A mother sailor who was returning from shore leave when the attack started. He said Uncle Henry was likely getting ready for his shore leave. This friend said Henry’s bunk room was next to the magazine. He is likely still in the Arizona. His name is on the Memorial.
Regarding my Uncle Henry Ochoski who is likely still on the Arizona, if there’s any benefit of doing DNA in his case, I’m willing to participate.
Rebecca, the DPAA would love to have DNA samples of all Arizona family members. You can click on this link for more information: https://ussarizona.navy/family-members/
My Uncle, June A.Wilson, was on the USS. Nevada. He told me many stories of that fateful day. He and his shipmates had just finished breakfast when the bugle sounded for flag raising. He had just stepped up on the main desk when the first 2 planes flew over and “Stitched a seam” across the deck. He spent many hours the next 3 weeks attending to anything connected with the USS Arizonia, having to take a bath 3 times a day from the oil accumulation on his body from being in the water. He stated that, “the day the rescue effort became recover, other than orders being given, no one spoke a word the entire day.” I think he would be proud of such an effort!
Those who subscribe to Find A Grave online may be interested in knowing that they have the USS Arizona Memorial on their site. It not only list the Navy and Marine personnel entombed in the vessel, but others with a connection to the USS Arizona. To date there have been 24 shipmates who have had their ashes placed inside the ship and others have had their ashes scattered over the site where their loved ones are.