U.P. WWII Soldier To Be Laid To Rest After 77 Years

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) has announced that the remains of a U.S. serviceman from Upper Michigan, accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Local Three News reports that Navy Fireman 2nd Class Lowell E. Valley, 19, of Ontonagon, accounted for on January 11, will be buried Saturday in his hometown. 

On Dec. 7, 1941, Valley 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 Valley.  

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 Valley.

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 NMCP for analysis.

To identify Valley’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome (Y-STR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA, as well as circumstantial evidence and dental and anthropological 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 72,906 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Valley’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, along with the other MIAs 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, or on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420/1169.

The remains of Lowell Earl Valley, Fireman Second Class, United States Navy, will be returned to Ontonagon, Michigan, for burial on July 14, 2018.  Lowell Earl Valley was killed in action on December 7, 1941 serving aboard the USS Oklahoma which was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Full military honors will be performed by the United States Navy at the Holy Family Cemetery in Ontonagon July 14.

Funeral Event Schedule:

  • 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM EST  –  Public Visitation / Viewing at Holy Family Catholic Church
  • 1:00 PM – 1:45 PM EST  –  Funeral Services at Holy Family Catholic Church
  • 2:45 PM EST  –  Full Military Rites Burial at Holy Family Cemetery 

The general public that would like to attend the visitation and or funeral services is asked to park at the Ontonagon High School and shuttle buses will be provided to bring you to and from the Holy Family Catholic Church.  Shuttle buses will also be available to take you from the Holy Family Catholic Church to the Cemetery for the burial and will return to the high school after completion.  

***  There will be limited parking at the Holy Family Catholic Church.  The parking lot at the church will be blocked off for family and funeral detail personnel only.  

For the general public that would like to attend the Military Rites burial, there will be parking available at the Ontonagon County Garage on US-45 You are asked to please not park along the highway.  There will be golf carts available for those needing assistance to get to the cemetery from the Ontonagon County Garage

***  Special parking at the cemetery will be available for military personnel/organizations participating in the Full Military Rites Burial Ceremony.