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NEWS | Aug. 19, 2021

WWII Veteran Returned Home After Being Identified Earlier This Year

By Petty Officer 1st Class Kourtney Holloway

Raleigh, N.C. - Sailors assigned to Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Raleigh rendered honors to a WWII veteran identified earlier this year as Navy Seaman 2nd Class Russell Orville Ufford of Kansas City, Missouri. 

Ufford was killed in action during the attacks on Pearl Harbor Sunday, December 7, 1941.

Seaman 2nd class is a rank from the early 1900s and is known today as seaman apprentice, the second-lowest enlisted rank in the Navy, directly above seaman recruit. 

The NOSC’s funeral honors team, consisting of eight sailors, met Ufford’s remains at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on July 15, 2021.  He was ceremoniously honored with a water canon salute. A police and veteran motorcade escorted Ufford’s remains to Powles Station Funeral Home on Main St. in Rockwell, North Carolina. 

Navy Rear Adm. Scott Fuller presided over a funeral service for Ufford held at the National Cemetery in Salisbury, North Carolina on July 16, 2021. Cecil Jeffers (and wife), an 84-year-old Cary, North Carolina resident and Ufford’s only surviving relative, attended the funeral.

Jeffers, Ufford’s nephew, was the first person standing in line to reach out and touch the flag adorned casket when his uncle arrived. Ufford’s remains traveled more than 11 hours by air to be reunited with family.  The Prisoner of War/Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Accounting Agency identified Ufford on February 11, 2021. He had been previously interred in the Punchbowl for unidentified sailors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu since 1947.

NOSC Raleigh’s own Petty Officer 1st Class Joel Souther, a native of Iredell, North Carolina, worked closely with the family.

“It was my honor and privilege to bring him home,” said Souther. “Seaman 2nd Class Ufford was from our greatest generation.” 

Born on January 27, 1924, Ufford was recorded as just 17 years old at the time of his death aboard the USS Oklahoma. 

Souther went on to say that Ufford’s sacrifice was unimaginable. 

“On December 7, 1941, Seaman 2nd Class Ufford and 428 shipmates gave their lives aboard the USS Oklahoma at the Battle of Pearl Harbor,” said Souther. “It’s hard to comprehend this 17-year-old’s sacrifice and the lifetime of events he missed.”