Excavators made a shocking discovery recently in the murky depths of Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor; a human skull. The remains are believed to belong to a Japanese pilot who perished during the Pearl Harbor attack.
The Pearl Harbor skull was salvaged during a night time search of the waters. Crew was unaware of the discovery at first and allowed the remains to dry with other retrieved items. However, once the skull was found among the items all work was abruptly stopped.
Public Affairs Officer Denise Emsley asserted, “We definitely wanted it to be handled correctly. That’s why it’s been kept quiet. We didn’t want to excite people prematurely.”
Despite its harsh removal, the Pearl Harbor skull remained intact and an investigation is underway to determine its exact origin. So far archeologists have only determined who the remains do not belong to; ruling out ancient burials sites or a missing person as the source of the find.
The Pearl Harbor skull was found along with several other objects such as forks, scraps of metal, and a 1940s Coca-Cola bottle; which suggests the remains be from the World War II attack.
The Associated Press reported, “Archaeologist Jeff Fong of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific described the discovery and the efforts under way to identify the skull. He said the early analysis has made him ‘75 percent sure’ that the skull belongs to a Japanese pilot.”
The remains were turned over to the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) Laboratory on Oahu to be identified. Laboratory director John Byrd indicated that dental record examination and DNA analysis will be some of the testing necessary to determine the exact identity of the Pearl Harbor skull.
Byrd admitted, “We’re working on the case, but the case is just in the early stages of analysis. We’re not going to know much more about it for a while yet. At this point it’s just a hypothesis, it’s not a conclusion. It might be very interesting or it could be very mundane.”According to CNN, “Pearl Harbor historian Daniel Martinez told affiliate KHON-TV that based on where the skull was found, it may be that of an aviator from a Japanese torpedo plane that was attacking battleship row and was hit in its engine by anti-aircraft fire from the destroyer USS Bagley.”
This detailed information of the site may allow for the remains to be matched with a specific crewmember, Martinez suggested.
JPAC is the only accredited Skeletal Identification Laboratory in the United States and declares, “More than 78,000 Americans are unaccounted for from WWII with an estimated 35,000 deemed recoverable. JPAC is dedicated to those lost in World War II and deploys teams world-wide approximately five times a year with missions lasting 35 to 60 days depending on the location, terrain, and recovery methods.”
If the Pearl Harbor skull is determined to belong to a member of the Japanese air force, it will be the first time Japanese remains have been discovered at the harbor since World War II.
The Pearl Harbor attack claimed thousands of American lives, at least 900 of which remain trapped beneath the water in the USS Arizona battleship. This shocking discovery shows that the historic attack is still making waves on the shore of Hawaii and once fully identified, the Pearl Harbor skull could prove to be a ghostly piece of World War II history.