Campus Life

Former Student Killed At Pearl Harbor Laid To Rest

Victor Patrick Tumlinson was on the USS Oklahoma when it was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Nearly 80 years later, his remains were identified.
By Caitlin Clark, Texas A&M University Division of Marketing and Communications December 20, 2019

portrait of victor tumlinson in uniform
Victor Patrick Tumlinson attended Texas A&M University during the summer of 1938. He was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Department of Defense

For nearly eight decades, the remains of Navy Fire Controlman 3rd Class Victor Patrick Tumlinson were unidentified. Like more than 72,000 other Americans who served during World War II, the military considered him unaccounted for, but believed he was killed during World War II while under enemy attack .

The 19-year-old from Raymondville was on the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941 while it was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor and attacked by Japanese aircraft. The battleship capsized after multiple torpedo hits. Tumlinson was among the 429 crewmen who were killed.

Just three years earlier, Tumlinson was enrolled at Texas A&M University. Records from the Office of the Registrar indicate he attended classes during the summer of 1938. Though it’s unclear exactly how long he attended A&M, like many young men his age, Tumlinson soon enlisted in the military. More than 20,000 Aggies served in the second World War.

The Department of Defense’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced in March that Tumlinson’s remains were identified thanks to advancements in forensic techniques. An announcement from the department says he was accounted for on Feb. 8.

While his remains were recovered from the Oklahoma, they could not be identified at the time. Tumlinson was buried at the National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu along with others who were killed. A military board classified those who could not be identified — including Tumlinson — as non-recoverable in October 1949, according to the Department of Defense.

In April 2015, the deputy secretary of defense directed the disinterment of “unknowns” associated with the Oklahoma, the military announcement said, and those unidentified service members were exhumed for analysis that summer. The Department of Defense said Tumlinson’s remains were identified through mitochondrial DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, and “circumstantial and material evidence.”

According to an article in TIME magazine, descendants of Tumlinson’s sister were asked to give mitochondrial DNA samples to compare with the remains. His surviving family members were informed of his identification earlier this year.

“I was overwhelmed,” his niece Cathy Ayers told TIME. “I thought it was not ever going to happen.”

Another Aggie who was declared missing in action during the Korean War was recently identified using similar DNA testing.

“Our Aggies who have made the ultimate sacrifice inspire us with their selfless service,” said Kathryn Greenwade, vice president of The Association of Former Students. “It is important that their sacrifice be recognized appropriately and that they be laid to rest with the full honors they have earned. As our military officials continue to the painstaking work of identifying remains, they honor the service of the fallen and also provide the families of these service members with long-overdue closure and comfort.”

Tumlinson was recently buried in his hometown on Pearl Harbor Day. The Department of Defense said a rosette will also be placed next to his name at the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific to indicate he has been accounted for.

Media contact: Caitlin Clark, 979-458-8412,

Related Stories

Recent Stories