WASHINGTON – Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) released the following statement today, in regard to a report from KCRG, about an Iowan’s remains that were identified through DNA testing.  Iowan Robert J. Bennett was aboard the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

“Today, I want to honor the bravery and service of Navy Fireman 3rd Class Robert J. Bennett, a native of Monona, Iowa, whose remains have been identified among those killed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. May Mr. Bennett, and all of the men and women who gave their lives that day as the ultimate sacrifice, rest in peace.

“I also want to thank the work of those at the U.S. Department of Defense, who are dedicated to identifying the remains of those who have fallen.  Their work helps the families and friends of these servicemembers, and allows us to properly honor these American heroes.”


According to KCRG, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced on Monday, September 10, 2018, that they accounted for the remains of Robert J. Bennett. The Agency stated that Mr. Bennett was aboard the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  His remains were among those unidentified after the attack and moved to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.  After DNA testing and thorough evidence, Mr. Bennett’s remains were identified, and now a rosette will be placed next to Bennett’s name on the Walls of the Missing.

Also killed on the USS Oklahoma that day was Iowan Father Aloysius H. Schmitt, the first American chaplain of any faith to die in World War II.  Lt. j.g. Schmitt was also identified by DNA testing in 2016.  On December 7, 2017, he was awarded the Silver Star for helping 12 sailors to safety from a sinking battleship.  Senator Ernst’s efforts led to a Naval review of Father Schmitt’s heroic efforts, which ultimately resulted in his noncombat Navy and Marine Corps Medal being upgraded to the combat award.