U.S.S. Arizona Sailor Floyd A. Wells Identified during U.S.S. Oklahoma Unknowns Project
World War II Navy Radioman 2nd Class Floyd A. Wells Confirmed Identified (Wells, F.) WASHINGTON – The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has disclosed that Floyd A. Wells, a Navy Radioman 2nd Class who was 24 years old and a native of Cavalier, North Dakota, has been formally identified. His identification was confirmed on June 17, 2019, and initially publicized on July 8, 2019.
Wells was stationed aboard the USS Arizona, docked at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the infamous attack by Japanese aircraft occurred on December 7, 1941. The battleship suffered hits from up to eight bombs, resulting in a catastrophic explosion and a fire that raged for 48 hours. This devastating incident led to the loss of 1,177 lives on board. Most of these sailors and Marines are still entombed in what is now the USS Arizona Memorial, as their remains were never recovered. Some remains from the crew of the U.S.S. Arizona were recovered but never identified and subsequently buried in multiple commingled graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific where they still lye unidentified today.
In the years that followed the Pearl Harbor assault, the U.S. Navy conducted recovery operations for those lost on various ships, including the USS Oklahoma, where another 429 crew members had lost their lives. Most of the unidentified remains from these operations were eventually laid to rest at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, colloquially known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. After receiving approval from Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work, DPAA staff disinterred these unknown remains between June and November 2015 for further examination.
Among the remains exhumed was a casket originally labeled as X-97, initially buried at Nu’uanu Naval Cemetery. This casket was part of the DPAA’s project focusing on the USS Oklahoma. When the remains inside did not match any of the USS Oklahoma’s missing personnel, the investigative team broadened their search to include all missing individuals from the Pearl Harbor attack.
Through extensive analysis, DPAA scientists determined that the remains had been mistakenly identified as originating from the USS Oklahoma in the turbulent days following the attack. Previous efforts to identify the remains in the immediate post-war period were not successful, leading them to be interred at the Punchbowl among the other Unknowns from the USS Oklahoma.
To conclusively identify Floyd A. Wells, experts from DPAA employed anthropological assessments and considered both circumstantial and material evidence. They were assisted by scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, who utilized mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) in the analysis.
Out of the 16 million Americans who served during World War II, over 400,000 lost their lives. At present, 72,660 service members from the conflict remain unaccounted for, with an estimated 30,000 of them potentially recoverable. Floyd A. Wells’ name has been engraved on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, and a rosette will now be placed beside it to signify that he has been accounted for.