By CHAD FRED BAILEY
H&T Guest Writer
The first Sunday in December is always a day that the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council remembers the seven men in the region who were killed in action or missing in action on Dec.r 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. “A day that will live in infamy,” as said by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Dec. 8, 1941, when he addressed the nation by radio.
Yet, for the Tri-Cities Military Affairs Council remember the men who perished for our freedom is more than just an annual tradition.
On Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, this tradition was not broken, even though those who gathered wore masks and socially distanced.
On that day, 12 individuals gathered in the hall of the Kings Mountain Post #24 of the American Legion in Johnson City, and heard military historian Allen Jackson called the names about seven young men from the region who lost their lives during the attack.
A candle was lit and a bell rang to remember them including: James Edmon Strickland, Jr. (March 3, 1920 – Dec. 7, 1941); Robert Cecil Duff, Jr. (July 3, 1917 – Dec. 7, 1941); Kenneth Taft Lamons (Oct. 12, 1909 – Dec. 7, 1941); Warren Harding Crim (13 Oct 1921 – 7 Dec 1941); William Vane Campbell (16 Jun 1921 – 7 Dec 1941); Charles DeWitt Byrd (1922 – 7 Dec 1941); and Paul Edd Saylor (1920 – 7 Dec 1941).
Three of these men were killed in action, while the remaining four were missing in action. Of those missing in action two have been found, leaving the remaining two: Johnson City native Paul Edd Saylor and Kingsport native Charles DeWitt Byrd missing, until last Tuesday, Nov. 24. Byrd died on the USS Arizona, which means that his body remains on the ship. The USS Arizona’s crew’s remains were never taken off the ship and remain at the bottom of the Pacific, where the USS Arizona Memorial remains on top of the ship’s remains.
On Nov. 24, Jackson receive a phone call from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in Honolulu, Hawaii that the remains of Paul Edd Saylor had been identified in a new way of DNA identification of the remains from the USS Oklahoma Project.
Saylor served on the USS Oklahoma as well as Warren Harding Crim, who was accounted for on Jan. 18, 2018; and William Vane Campbell, who was accounted for on May 9, 2018.
On June 16,1943, the USS Oklahoma was righted and at that time most of the remains were removed. In all, 429 men were listed as missing in action/unknowns since their remains could not be identified — and were interred in two cemeteries.
Yet, in 1947, these remains were disinterred, reexamined and 35 more were identified. The remaining were reinterred at the National Cemetery of the Pacific, in 46 grave sites which contained 61 caskets. In 2015, all were disinterred again and with used of dental records and DNA testing on all bones, more of the MIA have been found including three in our region. Today’s news closed the door on what happened to our region’s heroes at Pearl Harbor as they are all now accounted for. Saylor was the last holdout, as Jackson told the crowd, and his lighted candle will bring him home in the weeks and months to come. Arrangements are still in the works and will be announced as soon as possible.