After 78 Years, Laramie’s MMFC George Hanson Comes Home to Rest
LARAMIE – On Dec. 17, 2018, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced that the remains of Navy Machinist’s Mate 1st Class George Hanson, 32, of Laramie, Wyoming, killed during World War II, were accounted for.
On June 26, the WWII Veteran will be escorted from Denver International Airport to his Wyoming hometown. He will be interred in his final resting place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, at Green Hill Cemetery, 455 N. 15th St. in Laramie.
During Hanson’s transport to Laramie, the family asks for a show of support on the route, along the side of the roads and overpasses, as safety allows.
Hanson’s remains will be arriving at DIA on June 26 at 7:15 p.m. at the Delta Airlines terminal. His escort home will begin upon the family receiving his remains.
(UPDATE: Please note the route change, modified 6/20/19 at 2 p.m. Also, within the next few days, organizers will announce a timeline for the escort)
The route begins on TOWER ROAD to 120th; then 120th to I-25; I-25 NB to the Wyoming/Colorado state line; continuing to I-80 WB to Laramie, exiting at Exit 316, Grand Ave.; then Grand Ave. south to 22nd St., ending at Rainbow Ave. at the Montgomery-Stryker Funeral Home.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Hanson was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Hanson.
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crewmen, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Hanson.
Between June and November 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknown remains from the Punchbowl for analysis.
To identify Hanson’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 analysis.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently, there are 72,731 (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Hanson’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.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call 703-699-1420 ext. 1169.