Trenton Soldier Killed During Pearl Harbor Attack Accounted For

Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class William A. “Billy” Klasing

Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class William A. “Billy” Klasing, 19, of Trenton, Illinois, born March 28, 1922, a son of the late Theodore and Emma M., nee Groman, Klasing and brother of the late Robert A. (Mary) Klasing, killed during the Pearl Harbor attack that launched World War II, was accounted for on Feb. 4, 2019.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Klasing 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 Klasing.

Klasing’s family name is peppered throughout Trenton’s history, and family members in the area include nieces, Linda Rakers of Trenton and Diane (Jerry) Hanft of Freeburg; great-niece, Jen (Brian) Kuhl of Trenton; great-great-nephews, Mytchel, Brady, and Carter Kuhl.

A graveside service with full military honors rendered by the United States NAVY will be Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Trenton Cemetery with Pastor Steve Rogier officiating.

A procession honoring Navy Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class William A. Klasing will be Friday, June 28, 2019 around 4:00 p.m. beginning off Interstate 64 in New Baden. The procession will then continue through Trenton and Aviston and ending at Moss Funeral Home in Breese.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, 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 (AGRS) 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 (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Klasing.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for analysis.

To identify Klasing’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial and material evidence. Additionally, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used Y-chromosome DNA (Y-STR) analysis.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs 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 72,737 (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II.

Klasing’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette has been placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Moss Funeral Home in Trenton is honored to assist the Klasing Family.

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