CARY, NC – A Cary family is mourning a loved one they never met. They hope one day the remains of Herbert Jacobson, 21, who was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, will appear.
Now, the day has come, and with it, a proper burial in Washington, DC
The story begins in 1920 when Jacobson was born.
“Bert grew up in Grayslake, Illinois,” said his grandson, Brad McDonald.
At the age of 20, he joined the Navy, and as a Class 3 firefighter, Jacobson was assigned to the USS Oklahoma.
“Bert reported to Hawaii on September 11, 1941. He was only there shortly before the attack,” McDonald said.
Jacobson was among more than 400 sailors and marines killed aboard the USS Oklahoma when Japanese fighters attacked the base on December 7, 1941.
“In all likelihood, he was asleep when the attack occurred,” McDonald said.
“It was a sad day for our grandmother, who never knew where her son was,” Jacobson’s niece, Dawn Silsbee, said.
The family, like hundreds of others, never had a body to bury. Jacobson’s remains may be scattered across a dormant crater near Pearl Harbor.
“The identification process in 1949 was not great,” McDonald said. “They finally perfected the DNA techniques. That’s when they made progress.”
For decades, Jacobson’s nephews and nieces, who lived in Cary and never met their uncle, sat waiting for the phone to ring while attending meetings with Hai’s forensic scientists. military, who continued to collect DNA samples in the hope of a match.
Year after year, it appears shorter.
“[Navy forensic scientists] McDonald said, “We think we can identify him, but it won’t last for your lifetime.”
Then a phone call came in in 2019. The 80-year quest to find Jacobson’s remains was solved.
McDonald said: “Forensic scientists say it was a trap.
Jacobson’s skull, jaw, shoulders, and both sets of arms and legs were found. Now, his remains will be placed in a coffin filled with mementos and heirlooms.
“This represents the end, the end of a long, very long journey,” McDonald said.
Jacobson’s remains were interred September 13 at Arlington National Cemetery.
“It was more than we expected but all Bert deserved,” McDonald said.
“We never give up hope.”
Project Oklahoma, has led to the identification of 355 men, including Jacobson, who perished aboard the USS Oklahoma in 1941. That leaves 33 sets of remains unidentified.