Remains of local man's father identified from Pearl Harbor attack

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Imagine getting a phone call telling you that the remains of your father, who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, were identified.

It was quite a surprise for one Panama City Beach man who wasn't actively searching for answers.

It's been 76 years since the day Robert Schoonover's father, John, was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His family was given only minor details.

"Just that he was aboard the Oklahoma and it capsized when it was torpedoed that day," Schoonover explained.

Schoonover had traveled to Pearl Harbor before to visit the Punchbowl National Cemetery, where dozens of unidentified remains are buried together.

But it was a DNA sample submitted by his father's niece that led to a match, and then a phone call from the defense department's POW/MIA agency.

Schoonover said, "They just gave me a call on the telephone one day, and said, 'Hey, we found your father.'"

And then a visit, in person, to deliver the case file, which Schoonover says is meticulously detailed.

"The DNA bone samples were submitted for DNA testing at Dover Air Force Base. They found quite a few of them, probably have of his bones, close to half," said Schoonover.

Those remains will return to Punchbowl National Cemetery, this time in an individual plot with John Schoonover's marker.

"What I've told them I wanted to do was that I would like his remains buried with his shipmates over in the Punchbowl in Hawaii, right above Pearl Harbor," Schoonover said.

A final resting place for a sailor who gave the ultimate sacrifice.