By MARC PRATT
The remains of a Massachusetts sailor who died when the USS Oklahoma was hit by multiple torpedoes during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 are interred Monday at Arlington National Cemetery.
The burial comes more than 80 years after the attack that dragged the United States into World War II and nearly four years after the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class Roman W. Sadlowski, of Pittsfield, had been considered for advanced DNA and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
About 15 family members from Massachusetts, Texas and Florida are scheduled to attend the ceremony which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, said Joe Makarski Jr., who is Sadlowski’s nephew and who provided a sample of DNA about a decade ago that was used to help identify the remains.
“We’re very excited,” Makarski, 81, said in a phone interview. “It’s been a long time, and I’m glad I’m alive to finalize it.”
Makarski never met his mother’s brother, but he grew up hearing about him.
“I remember my dad and my mom talking about him, and they always spoke very highly of him,” he said. “I know he worked at General Electric and he did the books for my mom’s little beauty salon in Pittsfield. Growing up, I always saw his picture at my grandmother’s house.
Sadlowski, 21, enlisted in the Navy on July 31, 1940, according to the Navy’s Office of Community Outreach.
As a journeyman electrician, his duties included the maintenance, operation and repair of the battleship’s electrical systems, engines, generators and alternators.
The USS Oklahoma was among the first ships hit in the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, hit by three aerial torpedoes just before 8 a.m. while many sailors were still sleeping below decks, according to accounts from the Marine.
The port side was torn open and within 15 minutes of the first hit, she rolled over completely, trapping hundreds of crew. Two crew members received the Medal of Honor for their efforts to save fellow sailors, and a third received the Navy Cross.
Sadlowski was among 429 sailors and marines from the USS Oklahoma who died.
Of those who died, 388 could not be identified and were buried at Pacific Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu.
The process of exhuming the remains for DNA analysis began in 2015, and since then 355 have been identified, according to the Navy.
Sadlowski’s family debated where to bury the remains, Makarski said. They considered veterans’ cemeteries in Massachusetts and Florida, and even considered his hometown of Pittsfield, although no known family members still live in the western Massachusetts town.
“We talked about it a lot and chose Arlington because of its prestige,” he said.