NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The attack on Pearl Harbor happened December 7, 1941, and is a day that will live in infamy.
The USS Oklahoma was one of the first vessels to be hit by torpedoes and gunfire that day and was eventually sunk in the harbor.
When the ship was righted 429 sailors’ remains were recovered and only 35 were identified then.
In 2015 a project began to identify the remaining 388 remains and by 2021 355 were identified.
Among those shipmen was Fireman First Class (F1c) Dan Edward Reagan. Reagan was raised in Forester, Arkansas and joined the Navy when he was 17. F1c Reagan was finally laid to rest with full honors on Tuesday after his remains were identified in 2019.
Branch Head for the Navy POW/MIA, Lieutenant Commander Jory Morr says the Navy will not stop until all remains can be identified.
“You are not forgotten. It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, 80 years, 20 years. We are still working to identify those missing sailors and marines,” LCDR Morr said.
The Navy cross-references DNA from those remains with family members.
Lieutenant Commander Richard Vagts of the Little Rock Navy Guard considers F1c Reagan a fellow shipman despite the vast difference in their service. He says it is important for families to have a proper honoring of those fallen.
“It’s not just honoring F1c Dan Reagan here, it’s also about us being able to move on and I think going through these emotions and going through the process of rendering honors, and firing the volleys, playing TAPS, folding the flag, it all just helps us move on,” LCDR Vagts said.
He helps with the ceremonies for funerals and has seen plenty of funerals. He says there are always those somber moments.
“Every time I hear the notes on TAPS it’s such a heavy moment,” LCDR Vagts explained.
He says they practice the steps in a full honor ceremony so there are no hiccups and they can be professional in the moment. LCDR Vagts says no matter the circumstance or reason for a funeral – in this case, 80 years after the fact – it still leaves an impact.
“You always acknowledge that heavy, emotional toll that comes with it so it never really does get routine.”
Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office also presented the family with a proclamation acknowledging F1c Reagan’s service and he ordered flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise November 1 until sunset on November 2. He also deemed November 2 as “Dan Edward Reagan Memorial Day in Arkansas”.