Sailor Killed During Pearl Harbor Attack 81 Years Ago Finally Laid to Rest in Mossyrock Cemetery


Eighty-one years, six months and one day ago as of Wednesday, the Japanese Imperial Navy unleashed its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the first ships moored at the U.S. Navy base to be struck by Japanese torpedoes was the U.S.S. Oklahoma.

At 7:55 a.m. on that infamous Sunday morning in Hawaii, the Oklahoma sustained the first of six torpedo strikes and capsized in a matter of minutes. Of the more than 1,400 crew members on board, 429 died after they were unable to get off the ship before it capsized. 

One of those men was Cecil Barncord, an electrician’s mate third class from Topeka, Kansas. 

On Wednesday morning, Barncord was laid to rest at the Swofford Cemetery in Mossyrock with full military honors. Barncord’s journey to Mossyrock took 81 and a half years. 

Many of his surviving relatives were in attendance, including Larry and Vicky Mason, from Mossyrock, and Tom Rowe, who flew in from Atlanta for the funeral. 

Rowe and Larry Mason are two of Barncord’s surviving nephews. 

“It’s amazing, the crowd like this, after this many years,” Larry Mason said. 

More than 60 people drove to Swofford Cemetery to attend the ceremony, including a U.S. Army rifle team, U.S. Navy pallbearers, the Patriot Guard Riders, members of the Sons of the Revolution, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars and Mossyrock area residents. 

“Some of you may know, the Rowe kids, Cecil and his brothers and sisters were all separated when they were little. I’m thankful, My dad … he might have known Cecil for about a year and a half before my dad got transferred off and that was the last time he ever saw him,” Rowe said. 

Hundreds more people lined the streets of Mossyrock — including the student bodies of the local schools — before the funeral to wave flags in support as the funeral procession made its way to the cemetery.

“We didn’t know there were that many kids in Mossyrock,” Vicky Mason said. 

U.S. Navy Region Northwest Chaplain David Dinkins delivered the opening eulogy and shared Barncord’s story. Barncord was born on Feb. 1, 1917 to Flavious Josephus and Pearl Elisabeth Rowe, then adopted by Charles Elmer and Mary Caroline Barncord.

He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Sept. 8, 1939, in Kansas City. 

“He reported to the U.S.S. Oklahoma, battleship 37, on November the 10th, 1939,” Dinkins said. 

As an electrician’s mate, Barncord’s duties included performing maintenance on the Oklahoma’s electrical systems and motors, charging and maintaining batteries and maintaining fire controls among other responsibilities. 

Following the Pearl Harbor attack, U.S. Navy personnel recovered remains of sailors from the Oklahoma and interred those they recovered at the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries in Hawaii until World War II ended. 

Dinkins went on to say of the 429 sailors who perished on the Oklahoma, only 35 were able to be identified after the remains were disinterred by the American Graves Registration Service in 1947. 

The remaining unidentified sailors were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In 1949, a military board classified the unidentified remains as non-recoverable. 

Then, in 2015, DPAA personnel exhumed the remains of the unidentified sailors for further analysis. Using dental and anthropological analysis along with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis, they were able to positively identify Barncord. 

The mtDNA analysis was performed by scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System. While Barncord’s name is still recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, a rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. 

“Now, Electrician’s Mate Third Class Cecil E. Barncord returns home to family and friends,” said Dinkins. 

Barncord’s awards include a combat action ribbon, a Purple Heart medal, a pair of Good Conduct medals, the American Defense Service medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign medal, the World War II Victory medal, the American Campaign medal and a rifle marksmanship decoration.