At the Department of Defense, Rick Stone served as the Deputy Chief of the World War II Research and Investigation Branch and was the primary investigator assigned to the cases of American sailors listed as “Unresolved” from the USS West Virginia during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Chief Stone developed an extensive computer database to develop multiple statistical and historical datasets on missing casualties from the USS West Virginia. Twenty-five men from this battle remained in an “Unresolved” status in the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) database. Thirty-six bodies, or portions of bodies, identified after the attack as being from the USS West Virginia were previously buried as an “Unknown” in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Chief Stone utilized comparison biometric profiling and statistical correlations as investigative research techniques in completing official Investigative Reports on all 36 burials of USS West Virginia “Unknowns” in the Punchbowl. Research resulted in lists of names being developed for the three standard investigative categories:
1) Possible Matches………………………….2) Probable Matches………………………….3) Most Likely Matches
Each list was progressively refined by investigation until the smallest number of matches was obtained. The average number in the smallest refined category developed in each case was seven . Ten Punchbowl burials were determined to represent smaller portions of one of the other twenty-five “Unknowns” recovered that had significant amounts of body parts present. One case was fully investigated and determined to be the partial remains of a specifically named, previously identified and resolved casualty. In these eleven cases disinterment was not recommended. Disinterment and a full forensic review was recommended in 25 of the 36 Punchbowl cases investigated. The investigation in 12 of these cases resulted in the smallest refined number of matches being five or less, including one case which was refined to only a single match to the specific unknown casualty.
It was reported by the Director of Intelligence of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) that the JPAC Laboratory refused to read any Investigative Reports seeking to identify an unknown casualty if the investigator utilized biometric profiling during the investigation. As a result of this stance, not a single USS West Virginia “Unknown” from the Punchbowl was ever the subject of a JPAC forensic examination.
Fortunately, JPAC was disbanded under an avalanche of media reported scandals. The new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) finally read Chief Stone’s Investigative Reports and the disinterments of the USS West Virginia unknowns began on June 13, 2017, over five years after the original reports and recommendations for identification were made to JPAC by Chief Stone.
THE ORIGINAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTS PREPARED AT JPAC HAVE BEEN CONTINUALLY UPDATED BY FOUNDATION RESEARCHERS AND INVESTIGATORS AS NEW INFORMATION HAS BEEN UNCOVERED THAT WAS NOT AVAILABLE AT JPAC AND NEW FORENSIC INVESTIGATIVE TECHNIQUES HAVE BEEN APPLIED THAT ARE BEYOND THE CAPABILITIES OF THE JPAC/DPAA LABORATORY.
Each updated Investigative Report on the USS West Virginia Unknowns has been regularly offered to the Department of Defense to aid in the identification process. When the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced in June 2017 that it was finally acting on the recommendations to disinter and identify the “West Virginia” Unknowns from the Punchbowl, DPAA was again notified that the Foundation would allow DPAA researchers to have access to the latest Foundation assessments so that they no longer need to rely on long outdated reports and their organization’s slow response to obtaining complete research information and modern forensic investigative techniques.
UPDATES: On 25 October 2018, F1c Angelo Michael Gabriele became the first of the USS West Virginia’s “Unknowns” indicated by Chief Stone’s research as buried in the Punchbowl Cemetery to be officially identified by the Department of Defense.
F3c Harold Kendall Costill was officially identified on 19 April 2019 as a USS West Virginia “Unknown” at the site indicated in the Punchbowl Cemetery by Chief Stone’s research on 17 January 2012.
F2c Albert Renner was officially identified on 27 August 2019 as a USS West Virginia “Unknown” at the site indicated in the Punchbowl Cemetery by Chief Stone’s research on 12 January 2012.
F1c Bethel Elbert Walters was officially identified on 30 October 2019 as a USS West Virginia “Unknown” at the site indicated in the Punchbowl Cemetery by Chief Stone’s research in January 2012.
F1c Hadley Irwin Heavin and F3c Welborn Lee Ashby were officially identified on 20 November 2019 as USS West Virginia “Unknowns” at the sites indicated in the Punchbowl Cemetery by Chief Stone’s research in January 2012.
If you are a family member of one of the 19 American heroes who are still listed as “Unresolved” from the USS West Virginia at Pearl Harbor , you may contact the Chief Rick Stone and Family Charitable Foundation for a comprehensive “Family Report” designed specifically for your lost sailor with information regarding any possible match to those interred as an “Unknown” in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) in Honolulu, Hawaii. Our Foundation has completed over 440 Family Reports for the families of missing American servicemen.
There is absolutely no charge to family members for this service.
Request a Family Report
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