Public Memorial Planned for Arlington Sailor Killed at Pearl Harbor
By Madelyn Edwards
Posted on June 14, 2017, June 14, 2017

Killed at Pearl Harbor

A public memorial service is planned next week for an Arlington sailor killed more than 75 years ago during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Seaman First Class George Anderson Coke, Jr. will be buried with military honors Saturday, June 24, at Parkdale Cemetery in Arlington following a 1 p.m. funeral service at First United Methodist Church. Residents are invited to pay their respects to the sailor, who was 18 at the time of his death.

Mr. Coke, born on Aug. 6, 1923, joined the U.S. Navy in January 1941 during his senior year at Arlington High School. He was among 429 servicemen killed on Dec. 7, 1941, when the USS Oklahoma capsized after being hit by Japanese torpedoes during the attack on Pearl Harbor. His recovered remains, along with other unidentified fallen U.S. personnel, have been interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu for decades. But thanks to DNA technology available today, Mr. Coke is among many of the Pearl Harbor casualties who have recently been positively identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and brought home.

Family members say they were overwhelmed by the news that Mr. Coke had been identified in late 2016 and would return to his final resting place in Arlington after so many years of being declared Missing in Action.

"I don't believe that any family wants a member who is missing, without some sort of closure," said Arlington resident Sherry Dorn, who is Mr. Coke's second cousin. "A lot of my family members are buried out in Parkdale, and I would like for the whole family to be together."

A few years ago, a family member was asked to submit a DNA sample to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. Around Christmas last year, Milton Coke of Georgia said he received the surprising call that his uncle had been identified.

Since then, the family has worked with the Arlington Historical Society and others in the community to arrange the homecoming that has been years in the making.

At least 48 Arlington men lost their lives during World War II, according to the Arlington Historical Society. Mr. Coke is the only one known to have died on the USS Oklahoma. The city's population at that time was only around 5,000, said Wanda Marshall, treasurer and researcher for the Arlington Historical Society.

Doland Maner is one of the few living people who knew George Coke personally. Maner, who graduated from Arlington High School a year before Mr. Coke did, described the former classmate and football player as an "all-American boy."

Maner, who will speak during the public memorial service on June 24, said he hopes that residents today take the time to reflect on the city's past and appreciate the sacrifices that its families made during World War II.

"It's nice that the present citizens of Arlington know what this little community gave to the war effort," Maner said. "They should be honored."

Mr. Coke will be buried at Parkdale near his parents, George A. "Dutch" Coke, Sr. and Julina Jane Tomlin Coke. Family members say Mr. Coke's mother always hoped her missing son would return home.

George Anderson Coke, Jr.

August 6, 1923-December 7, 1941

Public memorial service
1 p.m. Saturday, June 24
First United Methodist Church
313 N. Center Street
Arlington, Texas 76011

Parkdale Cemetery
701 S. Mary Street
Arlington, Texas 76010

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