The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

March 3, 2013

Ceremony for USS Monitor sailors still stirs familial ties

(Continued)

RICHMOND, Va. —

Meanwhile, in a longshot bid to identify the remains, the skulls of the sailors found in the turret were used to reconstruct their faces about a year ago.

Some families whose ancestors had served on the Monitor came forward — including Rambo’s mother and Bryan — but DNA testing did not produce a conclusive match.

But some are confident their own detective work has sealed the family links to the two found in the turret.

Gaydee Gardner, Rambo’s sister, said it’s surreal to know “I am a blood relative to Jacob ... a 21-year-old kid off to sea on the first ironclad, whose president was Abraham Lincoln.” She will travel from Rancho Mirage, Calif., for the ceremony in memory of “a kid who must have been terrified during his final hours.”

Bryan said the Navy is sending a DNA kit to a maternal descendent in Australia in hopes of cementing the link with William Bryan.

“The more I’ve learned about him, the more I’m attached,” said Bryan, who will join 20 family members in Washington. “It doesn’t hurt that my father was William Bryan, so that always make it feel that it’s pretty personal.”

The remains were sent to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii. They concluded the sailors were white, each was 5-foot-7, and one was 17 to 24 years old while the other was in his 30s. They narrowed the possibilities to six among the 16 Monitor sailors who died.

Forensic anthropologist Robert Mann said the command has not given up hope and is conducting more DNA testing. Genealogists have been able to determine possible descendants for 10 families of the missing 16 sailors.

But while efforts to identify the two continue, “let’s lay the men to rest,” said David Alberg, superintendent of the Monitor sanctuary.

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