Gov. Phil Murphy has ordered flags to fly at half-staff on Monday to honor U.S. Navy veteran Harold “Bud Costill, who was an 18-year-old sailor on the USS West Virginia when he was killed in when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Costill’s remains were not identified until DNA tests were competed in June 2019. He had been officially listed as missing in action for nearly 78 years.
A funeral service is scheduled for tomorrow in Clayton, where Costill grew up.
Costill’s brother, 93-year-old former Gloucester County Freeholder and Clayton Mayor Gene Costill, will be in attendance.
According to the U.S. Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, the Navy recovered remains of at least 66 unidentified sailors while salvaging the USS West Virginia. Costill was among the those interred as unknowns in Hawaii.
The agency, working with officials at the National Memorial Cemetery, disinterred 35 caskets, reported to be associated with the USS West Virginia and transported the remains to a laboratory for identification.
Costill’s remains were identified after scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System conducted a dental and anthropological analysis, as well as mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis.
There are 72,704 still unaccounted for from World War II. The Defense Department says about 26,000 are considered as possibly-recoverable.
“Costill’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII,” the agency said. “A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”
The Defense Department said that the USS West Virginia was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor when the ship faced an attack by Japanese aircraft.
“The USS West Virginia sustained multiple torpedo hits, but timely counter-flooding measures taken by the crew prevented it from capsizing, and it came to rest on the shallow harbor floor,” the DOD said. “The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 106 crewmen, including Costill.”
Costill was a Navy Fireman 3rd Class.
Gene Costill was served five terms as mayor of Clayton and two terms as a councilman in the 1960s and 1970s and was a freeholder from 1977 to 1980.