ND veteran's remains identified 78 years after dying in Pearl Harbor attacks

Published: Sep. 22, 2019 at 10:24 PM CDT
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A North Dakota gold star family is finally getting closure nearly 80 years later.

Floyd Arthur Wells was killed at 24-years-old in World War II when Japanese bombers attacked Pearl Harbor.

Up until a few weeks ago, his remains were in an unmarked grave.

“To me it was just so meaningful and just absolutely remarkable that after 78 years his remains had been located,” Gail Wells, his niece, said.

Wells said last month she received a call that felt as if it came from a distant past.

“For all that time his family didn't know if he had gone down with the USS Arizona, was entombed at the bottom of the ocean,” Wells, who lives in Fargo, said. “Or, if he was buried in a mass grave with no name in one of the cemeteries in Hawaii.”

The remains of her uncle, who she never met, were identified by the Department of Defense.

“Floyd's sister Phyllis and her children sent in DNA specimens a couple of years ago and they matched up with these remains that were found and they turned out to be the remains of Floyd Wells,” she said.

The 24-year-old was born in Cavalier, North Dakota and enlisted in 1938 in the United States Navy.

While he had a conviction to serve his country, Gail Wells said joining also had a very practical purpose.

“He was going to send money he earned as a sailor to help my dad Glen go to business school but that was cut short because Floyd was killed,” she said.

Floyd Wells was on the USS Arizona during the surprise attack in December of 1941 by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.

The event marked a turning point for the United States as we then declared war on Japan, Germany, and Italy.

His family said the Department of Defense told them that his remains will be flown through Hector International Airport in Fargo on September 30.

Gail Wells’s family will be flying in from all over the country to witness this patriotic event.

“Makes us very proud that he gave his life for our country,” she said.

More than 1,100 sailors and marines from the USS Arizona died. About 330 people survived.

Floyd Wells has received several military awards posthumously, including a purple heart.

Still, he'll soon have the most precious gift of all, a chance to return home to North Dakota for his final resting place.

“He will have a name, he will be identified on his gravestone of who he is.”