82 years later, Everett-born sailor who died in Pearl Harbor is buried

Iliff “Ron” Bedford, who discovered he was a distant relative of Daryl Henry Goggin, traveled to Hawaii for the ceremony Friday.

Daryl H. Goggin, as shown in a news clipping shortly after his death in 1941. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

Daryl H. Goggin, as shown in a news clipping shortly after his death in 1941. (Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency)

EVERETT — After the attack on Pearl Harbor, hundreds of families never got to bury their dead.

Daryl Henry Goggin, a machinist warrant officer born in Everett, was aboard the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, when it was struck by Japanese torpedoes and machine gun fire. He died that morning.

The sailor’s burial was set for Friday at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the “Punchbowl.”

Goggin was born in Everett in 1907. He lived most of his life in Eugene, Oregon, and was the “first Eugenean” reported killed in action in the war with Japan, according to newspaper clippings from the time.

“Deeply distressed but very proud of of the son given to the service of the nation, Mr. and Mrs. Goggin are arranging to have the requiem high mass of the of the Catholic church said as a memorial,” read an article from Dec. 19, 1941.

But it was impossible to bring him home, until the Navy announced this year that officials had tracked down his kin and given them a full briefing on his identification.

The Navy posthumously awarded him a Purple Heart. He was also decorated with a Combat Action Ribbon, three Good Conduct Medals, an American Defense Service Medal, an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, a World War II Victory Medal and an American Campaign Medal. The Purple Heart was handed to his widow, Phyllis Goggin, newspaper archives show. He also had a 10-year-old daughter, Audrey Dianne. Phyllis and Audrey Dianne lived in California. The sailor had three brothers and a sister. Two of his brothers also served in the Navy: Chief Petty Officers Bernard and Michael Goggin.

A few years ago, the Navy called Iliff “Ron” Bedford, notifying him he was potentially related to the fallen sailor.

In January, the Navy officially announced Goggin had been identified. Scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency used dental and anthropological analysis to identify his remains.

Goggin was Bedford’s distant cousin on his mother’s side. It was shocking, Bedford said, to find out he had a family member who died on the date that would live in infamy.

“I had never even heard of him until the Navy called and asked if I would do a DNA test,” Bedford said. “I was very proud of him, and sorry for his family’s loss.”

Bedford, 73, lives in Tennessee. He also served in the Navy and was stationed in Cuba in the 1970s.

Goggin enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Sept. 26, 1926. As a machinist warrant officer, he was tasked with directing “difficult and exacting technical operations,” according to the Navy. He achieved one of the “top ratings” in the service, according to news accounts. He had seen the West Coast and beyond: born in Washington; raised in Oregon; married in British Columbia; drilled at the Naval Training Station in San Diego, with a family in nearby Oceanside, California; then ultimately stationed on Oahu. Over the course of his 15-year Navy career, Goggin served aboard the USS California, the USS Gamble, the USS Maryland and, starting in 1940, the USS Oklahoma.

The battleship would be his last assignment.

“It was hoped that the Oklahoma might never become a mere instrument of destruction nor of strife, but a minister of peace and a guardian of rights and interests of mankind, protecting the weak against the strong,” according to the ship’s commissioning statement in 1916.

In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson traveled to France on the Oklahoma to negotiate the Treaty of Versailles. In 1936, the vessel sailed to Spain to help rescue American citizens and refugees of the Spanish Civil War.

The Oklahoma was among a total 150 vessels in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Just before 8 a.m., Japanese air and sea forces attacked the naval base. A total of 2,403 Americans were killed and another 1,178 were wounded. The next day, the United States joined World War II.

The ship was supposed to be out at sea that morning, but the Oklahoma crew, including Goggin, was advised to stay for an admiral’s inspection.

Most of the sailors were sleeping in their racks when the attack commenced. Japanese planes strafed the deck with machine gun fire, and fired torpedoes at the ship. Within 15 minutes, the ship had turned over, trapping the crew inside.

In the chaos, several sailors saved the lives of their shipmates at the cost of their own. Ensign Francis C. Flaherty and Seaman 1st Class James R. Ward received the Medal of Honor for their efforts.

Men stuck in the vessel banged on the bulkhead, trying to get the attention of those outside. The banging continued for the next few days. The sound was coming from below the water line, and the sailors standing watch could only wait and listen for the banging to stop.

Of all the salvaging efforts commenced at Pearl Harbor, the Oklahoma was the most difficult. Preparations for righting the hull took eight months. During the salvage, divers made 1,848 descents into interior chambers, forcing 20,000 tons of water out of the ship.

In total, 429 sailors died aboard the Oklahoma. The ship was eventually righted in 1947, but only 35 people could be identified at the time. A few years later, all unidentified remains were buried at the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

In April 2015, the Navy announced the unidentified remains of the Oklahoma crew members would be exhumed for DNA analysis. Within seven years, all but 32 were identified. Goggin was officially “accounted for” on Oct. 10, 2015.

Even though he only recently learned about his distant cousin, Bedford flew to Oahu on Thursday with his wife to witness the burial.

“It was important for us to be there for him,” Bedford said. “He served his country honorably, so he should have an honorable burial.”

Correction: A previous version of this story said submarines fired torpedoes at the Oklahoma, but planes fired torpedoes at the ship.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @EDHJonTall.

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