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The Journey Home: U.S. Sailor Killed During Pearl Harbor Attack Returns Home After DNA Test Reconnects Him to Family

With a simple swab of his cheek, Clark learned in less than a month of a DNA match with his uncle's remains.

It's a homecoming more than 75 years in the making. A sailor killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor is coming home to Los Angeles.

In California, more than 56,000 service members are still missing from World War II alone but that changed for one local family. Thanks to advancements in technology, there is now a now a way to match the missing with their relatives.

On December 7, 1941, during the surprise attack by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, 20-year-old George Harvey Gibson was there. Gibson, the 3rd Class Electrician's Mate, was serving on the USS Oklahoma.

"The lights went out, and George and the other electricians got the lights back on, but then within a couple of minutes 4, 5, and 6 torpedoes hit," said Thomas W. Clark Jr. "The ship flooded out, rolled over and sank upside down within about 12 minutes. It took about 429 sailors and marines to the bottom."

Thomas Clark Jr. is George Gibson's nephew. His mother was George's sister.

"I have an original letter of my mom's last letter to my uncle, her brother," said Clark. "It's dated December 8, the day after the battle."

In the letter, George's sister writes, "Dear George, I hope you are OK by the time you get this letter." The family soon after learned he was not among the survivors.

Within a week or two, Clark said his family got a telegram saying that George was missing in action, and they haven't been able to locate them.

Three years ago the Department of Defense established the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency dedicated to identifying and returning the remains of U.S. service members lost in action.

With a simple swab of his cheek, Clark learned in less than a month of a DNA match with his uncle's remains.

"The Navy sent me a book of the forensic pictures, and of his Navy records from 1940 and on, and all the DNA research they did to find his body parts," said Clark.

Now, the farm boy from Kansas who graduated from Long Beach Wilson High School and joined the navy is finally coming home.

"I went through my whole life only hearing from my grandma and my mom about George, so this is a very emotional thing for me to bring him home," Clark said.

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