TOPEKA (KSNT) – A Topeka Navy sailor will finally be laid to rest after losing his life to the first wave of Japanese aircraft that sunk the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7 1941 at Pearl Harbor, HI.

Cecil Everett Barncord, of Topeka was born on Feb. 1 1917, according to a press release from the Public Affairs Office with the Navy Personnel Command (NPC). Barncord enlisted in the Navy on Sept. 8, 1939, in Kansas City, MO.

The NPC said Barncord worked his way up to Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class and worked on ship electrical systems, electrical motors, generators and alternators, charging and maintaining batteries, maintaining and repairing gyrocompasses, fire control and other circuitry.

Barncord started his navy career as a Seaman 2nd Class Jan 8, 1940, according to the NPC. He was later promoted to Seaman 1st Class on Aug. 16 1940 before being promoted to Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class on May 1st 1941.

Barncord started his duty at the Naval Training Station in San Diego, CA. on Sept. 11 1939 and later served on the USS Oklahoma starting on Nov. 10 1939, according to the press release.

The USS Oklahoma was one of 150 vessels making up the Pacific Fleet, according to the NPC. The USS Oklahoma was one of the first vessels hit at Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii that fateful Sunday morning.

The ship, captained by Howard D. Bode, was supposed to be at sea patrolling the Hawaiian Islands but was advised to stay at port for an admiral’s inspection that coming Monday, according to the press release.

When the attack began, the crew of the USS Oklahoma were sleeping in their racks below deck and never made it to the main deck, according to the press release. The USS Oklahoma was struck with three aerial torpedoes at around 7:55 a.m.

The NPC said the ship was hit by six more torpedoes and within 15 minutes of the first strike, had completely rolled over, trapping crewmembers inside her hull, according to the press release. In total, 429 USS Oklahoma sailors lost their lives.

In total, 429 sailor remains were recovered when the ship was up righted in 1944 but only 35 sailors were able to be identified, according to the NPC. The 388 unidentified sailors were first buried as “unknowns” in two cemeteries. They were all exhumed in 1947 in an unsuccessful attempt to identify more personnel.

In April 2015, the Department of Defense issued a policy change announcing the crew of the USS Oklahoma would be exhumed for DNA analysis with the goal of returning the remains to their families. By Jan. 28, 2021, 300 of the unknown sailors had been identified.

Barncord was awarded the Purple Heart Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, two Good Conduct Medals, the American Defense Service Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal and the Rifle Marksmanship decoration for his service, according to the press release.

Barncord will be buried at 11 a.m. June 7th in the Swofford Cemetary, 132 Harrington Rd., Mossyrock, WA.