NORMAN, Oklahoma - An unexpected phone call four years ago unlocked a mystery for a Norman woman, and her family. 

Deborah Gentry said she got that call from “The Defense PIO MIA” based in Quantico, Virginia in May of 2013.  Gentry said DNA and the website Ancestry.com helped the military identify dozens of bones belonging to her second cousin Vernon Keaton. 

Keaton—who went by the name “Buck,” was an 18-year-old Marine who was on the USS Oklahoma, when it sank after the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7,1941.  Four hundred twenty-nine sailors and Marines died. “This is for the veterans, it’s not for me,” said Gentry Tuesday from her home in Norman. 

She said the family plans a funeral—with full military honors—in Lula, Oklahoma on November 16th. She said an officer from Tinker Air Force Base will be escorting Vernon Keaton’s remains from Honolulu to Will Rogers World Airport, the day before. 

She said any military veteran who wants to attend the ceremony is welcome.  “We love you and you will never be forgotten,” she said.