The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that Navy Fireman 3rd Class Harold K. Costill, 18, of Clayton, New Jersey, killed during World War II, was accounted for on April 16, 2019.
(This identification was initially published on April 19, 2019.)
On Dec. 7, 1941, Costill was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS West Virginia sustained multiple torpedo hits, but timely counter-flooding measures taken by the crew prevented it from capsizing, and it came to rest on the shallow harbor floor. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 106 crewmen, including Costill.
During efforts to salvage the USS West Virginia, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crewmen, representing at least 66 individuals. Those who could not be identified, including Costill, were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
From June through October 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, in cooperation with cemetery officials, disinterred 35 caskets, reported to be associated with the USS West Virginia, from the NMCP and transferred the remains to the laboratory for identification.
To identify Costill’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of the Navy for their partnership in this mission.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,704 still unaccounted for from World War II, of which approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable. Costill’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Costill will be buried Sept. 14, 2019, in his hometown.