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Memorial Day memories: After 67 years, a ray of hope

TROPHY CLUB, Tex. _ Starring Winfield left his aunt and uncle’s house on the island of Oahu early that Sunday morning and made his way to Pearl Harbor.

Winfield, a 22-year-old Navy petty officer 3rd class, had to get to his ship in time for his 8 a.m. shift in the radio room, high in the superstructure of the USS Oklahoma, a battleship anchored alongside Ford Island.

Just before 8 a.m., Japanese torpedo bombers flew into view from the ship’s starboard side and unleashed their weapons at the sitting targets on "Battleship Row."

As many as nine torpedoes struck the Oklahoma within minutes, opening gaping wounds in the hull. The ship filled with water and rolled over.

It was barely 8:15 a.m.

Sixty-seven years later, on the afternoon of May 1, the phone rang in a house on the Trophy Club golf course north of Fort Worth.

The caller asked for Mrs. Meryl Patton. She knew it must be something official because her friends always call her Sunny.

He wanted to know if she was the sister of Petty Officer 3rd Class Starring B. Winfield. She sat down and called for her husband as a wave of shock and nauseating grief rolling over her. The man said he was with the Navy’s casualty office.

He wanted to send Patton, 88, a kit with instructions on how to swab her mouth and send it to the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command for DNA analysis.

They wouldn’t be able to identify her brother’s remains without it.

To read the complete article, visit www.star-telegram.com.

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