For 77 years, the family of Navy Fireman 3rd Class Kenneth Jayne has waited anxiously for word from the Pentagon that the Patchogue native, killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor, had been identified.
That wait ended Tuesday as Jayne, 26 at the time of his death, was positively identified through DNA and dental analysis, along with other material evidence, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. A total of 2,403 Americans were killed in the surprise attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
Jayne was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to quickly capsize. A total of 429 crew members, including Jayne, were killed in the attack.
The Navy would spend nearly 2 1/2 years recovering the remains of the deceased crew, including sailors and Marines, which were eventually interred at Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries in Hawaii.
In September 1947, the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. service members who had been on the Oklahoma. But laboratory staff were able to confirm the identifications of only 35 men from the battleship, the Accounting Agency said. The unidentified remains were buried later in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
In 2015, the Defense Department directed the disinterment of the remains of USS Oklahoma service members, and Accounting Agency personnel began exhuming them for analysis.
Jayne's nephew, Ken Schultz of Patchogue, told Newsday in December 2016 that Pearl Harbor was more than a memory.
“The new generation only knows 9/11, but we know Pearl Harbor,” Schultz said during a Pearl Harbor ceremony at the American Airpower Museum in East Farmingdale as he held a photograph of Jayne.
Schultz's mother, Lila Jayne, was Kenneth Jayne’s younger sister. “My mother would always talk about him,” said Schultz, a retired Long Island Rail Road motorman. “I’ve been wondering about him all my life. I was named after him.”
The Pearl Harbor attack persuaded President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to enter World War II, a gargantuan war effort that would eventually involve 16.1 million American troops in combat or support roles. The war claimed the lives of about 400,000 American troops, and killed at least 70 million people worldwide.
With Martin C. Evans