Marines

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Marines with Site Support Oklahoma City Prepare to transport Private Waldean Black during his plane side honors in Oklahoma City, April 25, 2022. The remains from the USS Oklahoma were buried in 52 mass graves for the entirety of World War ll before being exhumed with the intention of identifying all the men. By the end of 1949 only 49 bodies were identified. The others were reburied in 46 shared graves. In 2015, the Secretary of Defense issued a directive to exhume the 46 graves and utilize modern technology to identify the bodies using DNA. Black was officially accounted for on Dec. 13, 2018, thank to the DNA from his closest living relative, his nephew Derek Black. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay

Gone but not Forgotten; A Pearl Harbor Marine Laid to Rest in Perryton Texas

4 May 2022 | Lance Cpl. Ashley Corbo Marine Corps Forces Reserves

Gone but not Forgotten; A Pearl Harbor Marine Laid to Rest in Perryton Texas

Waldean Black left his hometown of Perryton, Texas on May 23, 1941 to become a U.S. Marine. Pvt. Black returned home April 28, 2022 and was laid to rest at the Ochiltree Cemetery in Perryton, Texas.

Black was born in Perryton, Texas, Nov. 11, 1921, where he spent most of his life before enlisting. He became a part of 3rd Recruit Battalion aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

Angela Hoagies and Russel Barfield, distant cousins of Black, were on the tarmac at the Oklahoma City airport ready to welcome him home with open arms, despite never meeting Black. “We’re really happy to be here and represent the family,” said Barfield. “We want to provide him a dignified return and pay the respect that the greatest generation gave us all. Freedom. It’s the least we could do.”

Black graduated recruit training in early August 1941. After attending further schooling for a short time, he received orders. On Sept. 5, 1941 Black hauled his sea bags aboard the USS Kanawha (AO-1), a former fuel ship used as a replenishment vessel, and began a five day journey to the USS Oklahoma (BB-37), a Nevada class battleship, in San Francisco.

On Oct. 3, 1941 the USS Oklahoma departed San Francisco Bay and arrived at its final destination, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. From October 3 until Dec. 6, 1941, a normal day on the USS Oklahoma consisted of routine ship duties and training exercises during the week and liberty ashore during the weekends.

On the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941 Marines prepared for another routine day on the ship. However, the dreadful events of this morning would be anything but routine. “December 7, 1941— a date which will live in infamy— the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan," said Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States.

“Pvt. Waldean Black is home and he will never be forgotten”.Chief Warrant Officer Ret., Benny Guerrero, United States Marine Corps


Black’s family was notified that he had been declared missing in action on Christmas Day, 1941, via telegram. Over 2,300 lives were lost that fateful day, 429 of those were aboard the USS Oklahoma, during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The remains from the USS Oklahoma were buried in 52 mass graves for the entirety of World War II before being exhumed with the intention of identifying all of the men. By the end of 1949 only 49 of the 429 bodies had been identified. The others were reburied in 46 shared graves.

In 2015, the Secretary of Defense issued a directive to exhume the 46 graves and utilize modern technology to identify the bodies using deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) methods.

Black was officially accounted for on Dec. 13, 2018, thanks to the DNA from his closest living relative, his nephew, Derek Black.
Despite being identified in 2018, Black did not begin his journey home until April 23, 2022.

Gone but not Forgotten; A Pearl Harbor Marine Laid to Rest in Perryton Texas Photo by Lance Cpl. Samwel Tabancay

On April 26, Southwest Airlines Flight 1717 landed at 10:05 a.m. where Black was met by excited family members and planeside honors performed by Marines of 2nd Battalion, 14th Marines, 4th Marine Division, from Site Support Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Performing honors is important because it's our opportunity to really embody the ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine’ phrase and be there for both the family and the Marine in a time of loss and see them all the way through,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lane, with 9th District Prior Service Recruiting Command. Derek and many other family members attended the funeral along with many veterans and community members across Texas.

Black received traditional military burial honors including a three-volley salute and a flag folding ceremony; local veteran groups also arranged for a battlefield cross, a flyover, and an emotional roll call. “We never forget a brother or sister who has paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Lt. Col. Rojelio Oregan, executive officer of Marine Artillery Detachment Fort Sill, Oklahoma. “You see all the retirees and the former Marines who are out here now driving several hours to be able to pay respects to someone who lost their life in defense of our country over 80 years ago. 

It's humbling; if we don’t continue to recognize these service members when they are exhumed and identified then we do them a disservice and we can't allow our nation to do that.” Pvt. Waldean Black is home and he will never be forgotten. “It's been said that a Marine truly dies when they are forgotten,” said retired Chief Warrant Officer Benny Guerrero. “It's our job not to allow anyone to forget.”

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Who We Are: The United States Marine Corps Reserve is responsible for providing trained units and qualified individuals for mobilization to active duty in time of war, national emergency, and crisis or contingency operations. On a day-to-day basis, Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) consists of a talented and dedicated pool of nearly 100,000 Marines able to augment the Active Component in a myriad of ways, to include operational deployments, support to training, participation in bi/multi-lateral exercises with partner nations and allies, and service-level experimentation in support of Force Design 2030 and refinement of new concepts, tactics, techniques, and procedures.

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