Pearl Harbor casualty named 64 years later
An amateur historian studying military records solves the mystery of a sailor lost in the attack
An amateur Pearl Harbor historian helped solve a 64-year-old mystery by identifying a Navy sailor missing in action from the Dec. 7, 1941, attack.
Seaman 2nd Class Warren P. Hickok of Kalamazoo, Mich., is the third missing Pearl Harbor serviceman identified by Kahala resident Ray Emory and confirmed by forensic experts.
The Pentagon announced last week that Hickok's body would now be returned to his family for burial.
"I've got some more I'm working on," Emory said. "It was harder finding his (Hickok's) sister than the body."
The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association historian collects "individual personnel deceased" files for Pearl Harbor casualties and "unknown" files for Pearl Harbor casualties buried at Punchbowl.
"I take the individual personnel deceased file on the man himself, then a bunch of files for unknowns, then start comparing them," he said. "That's all."
He was "kind of zeroing in" on the USS Pennsylvania when he figured out an unknown sailor called "X-2" was Hickok.
The Pentagon said Hickok was assigned to the USS Sicard, a mine-laying ship, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He and other crewmen of the Sicard were sent to help the crew of another ship, the USS Cummings, a Navy destroyer docked near the Sicard.
The Cummings managed to get underway and clear the harbor, with no casualties reported.
During an investigation to determine who was still unaccounted for after the attack, it was surmised that Hickok might have been killed aboard the battleship USS Pennsylvania, because some of the Sicard's crew had been dispatched to the Pennsylvania during the attack.
In the days after the attack, many of the dead who could not be identified were buried in Nuuanu Cemetery. Among them was the unknown sailor identified only as "X-2."
After the war, the Army Graves Registration Service oversaw the disinterment of unknown remains, including those of X-2. They could not be identified, however, and were reburied in Grave 731 at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific on June 9, 1949.
Last year, Emory contacted the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii and suggested that the remains in Grave 731 might include those of Hickok.
The grave was exhumed in June, and forensic anthropologists of the Joint POW-MIA Accounting Command were able to match the remains, including dental remains, with detailed information found in Hickok's World War II medical and dental records.
After determining X-2 was the missing sailor, Emory said he called the library in Kalamazoo, which sent him a newspaper clipping about Hickok's funeral in 1941 that mentioned his sister, four years younger.
He called the Kalamazoo newspaper and told them he was trying to find Hickok's sister, Marilyn. It published a story, and a lot of people responded, he said. "Somebody in the family, a cousin or somebody, called Marilyn and said, 'They're looking for you.'"
She had eloped in Indiana and now lives in Florida, he said. Her married name is Woodring.
He said he has been in touch with her for about a year. "In the meantime, they had a picture of him in the paper and he had a little space between the two front teeth that helped identify him."
Emory said he was telling his wife yesterday there was no way they could understand, without being in the situation, what it would be like if someone called after all these years and said, 'I found your brother.'
"It was quite a find."
The Associated Press contributed to this story.