Skull Excavated at Pearl Harbor Could Belong to Japanese Attack Pilot

A skull found in Pearl Harbor may belong to one of the Japanese pilots who conducted the World War II attack.

An excavation crew found the skull on April 1 along with artifacts including forks, metal and a Coca-Cola bottle, all believed to date from the World War II era.

"We were conducting debris removal from Pearl Harbor," said Don Rochon, public affairs officer for Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Pacific. "In some dredging operations, a skull was found" at 35 to 40 feet underwater.

He said the skull has been turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

"Until we get that final report from forensic analysis conducted by JPAC, we don't know the ethnicity of the skull," Rochon said.

But Jeff Fong, an archeologist at NAVFAC, earlier told the Associated Press that early analysis made him "75 percent sure" that the skull was that of a Japanese pilot.

When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941, more than 2,000 Americans at the naval base lost their lives. More than 900 of these men are buried underwater in the ruins of the USS Arizona, which sank in the attack.

Japanese losses included 55 airmen.

The skull found in April is just in initial analysis, according to Liz Feeney, a spokeswoman for JPAC. She said the process of identifying the remains could take from six months to a year, depending on the integrity of the remains received.

Ethnicity can be determined from forensic analysis of remains, Feeney said. "That's part of the biological profile."

Since its formation in 2003, JPAC has identified the remains of more than 560 Americans.