The U.S. Department of Defense announced this week that the bodies of 388 members of the U.S. Navy and Marines would be exhumed and identified.

Sen. Christopher Murphy and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, among a bipartisan group of 15 senators, had been pushing for the exhumation for a year. Among the 388 bodies that have yet to be conclusively identified — Marines and sailors who lost their lives aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941 — two were Connecticut residents.

“This is fantastic news and a huge step forward in bringing comfort and closure to not only two families in Connecticut, but also to hundreds of other families across the United States,” Murphy said. “For nearly 70 years, these families never knew the final resting place of their loved ones. These heroes — who made the ultimate sacrifice — died protecting our great nation and will finally be laid to rest, like they deserve, in a place of their families’ choosing.”

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The 429 American servicemen were aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941. The ship sank after being struck by several torpedoes. Following the attack, 35 of those killed were positively identified and buried. Five more were identified in the 2003, according to a release issued by the Department of Defense.

Several attempts at identification have been made in the years since the attack, using dental records. The results from those attempts were ultimately inconclusive and the bodies were reinterred.

USS Oklahoma (Wikimedia)

This latest identification attempt will employ DNA testing, according to the DOD, though Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said efforts might not be completely conclusive.

“While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible,” he said.

Nonetheless, Blumenthal said the effort was important, and a matter of “honor.”

“I am extremely pleased and grateful that the Department of Defense responded positively to this request,” he said. “It is a triumph for honor and a major step toward closure.”

Esty Pushes for Protections Against E-Cigarettes

A study showing a significant rise in the use of e-cigarettes by children has prompted U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, to once again call for legislation intended to curb that trend.

Results from the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, released Thursday, show that use of e-cigarettes among middle and high school students tripled in a 12-month period.

“Today’s results are deeply troubling and confirm the pervasive presence of e-cigarettes in our children’s schools,” Esty said in a release. “Nicotine is a highly-addictive drug, and our children are getting hooked. We’ve made too much progress reducing tobacco use among America’s youth to roll back the clock now.”

Esty has been touting two bills, H.R. 478, the “Protecting Children from Electronic Cigarette Advertising Act,” and H.R. 1375, the “Child Nicotine Poisoning Prevention Act.”

The poison prevention act requires child-safety packaging for all liquid nicotine containers used to refill e-cigarettes. The anti-electronic cigarette advertising measure would prohibit the use of advertisements targeted toward children.”

“It’s time for Congress to recognize the glaring absence of protections for our children’s health and pass these two commonsense bills, which will go a long way to reduce access to e-cigarettes for children and teens and prevent fatal liquid nicotine poisoning,” Esty said.

The 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey, results from which were released Thursday, found that the use of traditional cigarettes among children has declined between 2011 and 2014, while the use of e-cigarettes has been steadily growing. According to the survey, nearly 2.5 million middle and high school students said they used e-cigarettes at least once in the previous 30 days.

Jordan Fenster lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.

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