Victor Patrick "Pat" Tumlinson, 19, died on Dec. 7, 1941 in the strike on Pearl Harbor. He"s gift laid to remainder 78 years later in his hometown in Raymondville, Texas.

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Victor Patrick “Pat” Tumlinson was always a shadow in the lift of his nephew James Patrick Tumlinson’s life. Victor was just 19 once he passed away alongside 428 others on the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma in the Japanese attack on Pearl harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 — virtually a decade before James was born. But, the relatives were connected by the exact same birthday, Jan. 28, and also the same center name and nickname — “Pat.”

Reminders the Victor additionally lingered in his hometown of Raymondville, Texas. The neighborhood Veterans of foreign Wars post was named after him, and the family inscribed his name on a gravestone in the local cemetery alongside his mother, however the floor beneath continued to be empty.

That’s due to the fact that Tumlinson’s remains were unidentified for virtually eight decades — just one of more than 1,300 U.S. Personnel from Pearl Harbor who are confirmed dead, however whose remains have still no been identified and also brought home. In addition to many rather who perished on the Oklahoma, his name was significant on a plaque at the nationwide Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, but an individual burial was impossible.

For most Americans, Pearl harbor is psychic as one of the an excellent turning point out in U.S. History. After the Japanese surprise assault on Pearl Harbor claimed the resides of 2,403 U.S. Civilians and service members and destroyed or damaged 21 ships, the U.S. Was thrust to join people War II. However for family members like the Tumlinsons, in some methods the story showed up to it is in permanently unfinished.


The U.S.S. Oklahoma was the most complicated ship to salvage after the strike on Pearl Harbor. The preparations to appropriate the ship"s hull take it eight months.
U.S. Marine Photos

That is collection to adjust on Saturday — Pearl Harbor job — when Tumlinson will lastly be laid to remainder in the place where he grew up.

For decades, Defense POW/MIA audit Agency and its precursors have operated to identify those killed in the korean War, Vietnam War and other conflicts. Thanks to their hard work and also scientific innovations — choose DNA trial and error — investigators have started come look even further back: come the Pearl port dead and others from people War II.

With each passing conflict, the department of Defense scientists progressively fine-tuned their ability to gather information from human remains, and also increasingly started to combine DNA-testing technology. Today, room of Defense DNA Operations, in participation with the Defense POW/MIA accountancy Agency, have the right to compare hereditary information from household members come DNA gathered from business members’ remains, consisting of some that have been degraded or commingled.

After the Pearl harbor attack, recovering the remains required months the work; plenty of were not removed from the ship until months after that sank.

In the 1940s, researchers who were do the efforts to enhance the continues to be with the names of lacking sailors were restricted to the forensic methods of the era, like dental records. Identifying stays recovered native the Oklahoma seemed to be an especially challenging, because they had actually been badly blended together together they were eliminated from the ship. It to be ultimately chose that it would be too an overwhelming to tell apart the remains, some of which had actually spent years in the water.


In the decades because the attack, Tumlinson’s three enduring siblings went on to have their own children who grew up hearing stories of their uncle.

“He was the tender-hearted one,” states his niece increased Young. “I was constantly left through the emotion that i wish I can have known Uncle Pat. smart, and also he was the younger one so he would certainly be funny to it is in with.”

The family members was likewise left with precious artefacts from Victor’s life: a puzzle the he had actually crafted out of wire; a wooden heart he’d provided to a girl friend that had later to be passed on come his mother; and one of the last letters he wrote residence on Thanksgiving Day, 1941 — little much more than 2 weeks before his death.

In the letter, Tumlinson apologized for no writing more often, reminding his family that that was busy while the ship remained in dry dock. He pointed out that the U.S.’s Atlantic Fleet seemed to be “pretty close” to war, yet wrote mostly around his family members — including his brother, Sam, who remained in the army — and also talked around the upcoming university of Texas-Texas A&M football game. That told his family members that he preferred his work since his rank had actually been changed, speak he was glad the in his new role he got to be the end in the open instead of deep below deck.

“From the method you talk around the fresh sea air, etc. I view you don’t know sea life. Sure the air is fresh, etc. In ~ sea yet just snapshot 1,600 men on one ship and also figure just how crowded a delivery is,” Tumlinson wrote. He signed the letter, “Love, Pat.”


“After exhaustive search it has actually been uncovered impossible to locate your kid Victor beat Tumlinson Fire-Controlman third Class united state Navy and also he has as such been officially asserted to have lost his life in the business of his nation as the December seventh Nineteen fourty One. The room expresses to you that is sincerest sympathy,” said the letter, which was signed rear Admiral Randall Jacobs.

Tumlinson’s fatality was particularly hard on his mother, who had likewise buried the family’s youngest daughter after ~ the girl drowned.

“It was more than likely the hardest on her. She had actually lost her baby girl and also lost her infant boy,” states James Patrick Tumlinson.

Cathy Ayers, Tumlinson’s niece, claims that she grandmother never really obtained over losing her son. “Until the day she died, she said, ‘I great they could lug my boy home,” Ayers says.

Finally, virtually eight years after the remains were buried, family members like the Tumlinsons to be given brand-new reason because that hope.


In 2003, a Pearl harbor survivor named Ray Emory approached the U.S. Army central Identification laboratory with records that said one the the 61 caskets that held the remains of unknown Oklahoma sailors included the continues to be of a particular service member eliminated in Pearl Harbor. The rap agreed come investigate, and the casket to be exhumed.

Forensic evaluation of the remains uncovered something surprising: the traces of about 100 people in the solitary casket.

Timothy McMahon, the manager of department of Defense DNA Operations, tells that DNA and also other identification modern technologies have advanced rapidly in the past couple of decades together the military has pursued more identification projects, consisting of for world who perished in the oriental War. The technique was used to aid identify organization members native the oriental War, whose stays were went back to the U.S. By north Korea in 55 boxes critical year.

The success of these projects and also the DNA analysis of the USS Oklahoma coffin helped to to convince the armed forces that it was worth spring at various other mixed-up continues to be from world War II, states McMahon.

“It all began with the USS Oklahoma and that large, very first disinterment,” claims McMahon.

In 2010, Congress included identifying the continues to be of civilization War II dead to the accountancy agencies’ mission—in part because of the momentum generated by the USS Oklahoma mass coffin, follow to McMahon. In 2015, the various other coffins containing stays from the USS Oklahoma were exhumed. Much more than 200 people from the ship have actually been identified just in the last 4 years.


After that very first coffin to be dug up, descendants of Tumlinson’s sister, including Cathy Ayers, to be asked to offer mitochondrial DNA samples come compare through remains. Then, earlier this year, the Defense POW/MIA accounting Agency informed some family members that they had actually finally discovered a match.

“I to be overwhelmed,” Ayers says. “I believed it was not ever before going to happen.”

On Saturday, several dozen that Tumlinson’s family members members and an honor guard detail will recognize Pearl Harbor job by laying him to rest alongside his mom in Raymondville.

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“At the end of the day, that’s where he belongs,” claimed James Patrick Tumlinson.