CENTRE COUNTY, Pa (WTAJ) – A silver star sailor who died in the Pearl Harbor bombing in 1941 and was identified on Feb. 17, 2021, will be buried in California.
Hugh Rossman Alexander was born in Potters Mills, Pa on Dec. 25, 1897. He was the Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) and Senior Dental Officer aboard the USS Oklahoma. On Dec. 7, 1941, he and his shipmates were aboard Oklahoma when the bombing began and became entrapped inside the ship. Alexander helped others to escape via portholes and laid down his own life.
Alexander was originally nominated for the Navy Cross for his heroic actions during the attack but was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. In 2018, he was upgraded to the Silver Star, which is the 3rd highest military decoration awarded for valor in combat.
In total, 429 sailors lost their lives on the Oklahoma. In 1944 the ship was rightened and the remains of the soldiers were recovered. However, only 35 were able to be identified. The rest were buried as “unknowns” in two cemeteries.
In 2015, after failed attempts at identifying bodies the Department of Defense announced that the remains would once again be exhumed for DNA analysis. The goal was to return the identified remains to their families.
Since then, 355 have been identified and a the remains have been returned to their families or next of kin. Alexander was living in Coronado, California. He will return to California as it will be his final resting place.
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Alexander will be buried in San Diego.
For family and funeral information, contact the Navy Service Casualty office at (800) 443-9298.