Part of the hull of the capsized USS Oklahoma is seen at right as the battleship USS West Virginia, center, begins to sink after the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Navy via Associated Press

Ensign Stanley W. Allen of Bethel was aboard the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor on a quiet Sunday morning in December 1941.

Most of the crew was asleep below deck, moored next to the USS Maryland in Battleship Row, when the first Japanese torpedoes hit just before 8 a.m. Within 15 minutes, the USS Oklahoma rolled over, trapping hundreds of men inside.

Ensign Stanley Willis Allen Courtesy

Allen, 25, was among the 429 men from the USS Oklahoma killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His body went unidentified for 80 years and the story of his life and death was largely lost to history.

Until 2021, when a Navy project dedicated to reuniting the lost sailors with the families who spent years waiting to lay them to rest finally found a match.

The young naval aviator has now come home to Maine, bringing comfort to his small surviving family. He will be buried with full military honors on Tuesday at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Augusta.

“Making his ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, his life is forever etched in the annals of history,” his family said in his obituary, published this year. “His noble actions serve as an inspiration to all who follow in his footsteps, a shining example of the valor and honor that define the American spirit.”


Allen was one of five Mainers killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Ensign Stanley Allen was one of five Mainers killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. Portland Press Herald archives

The others – Pvt. Joseph Herbert Jencius, Pvt. Harry W. Lord Jr., Pvt. Willard C. Orr and Pvt. Hermann K. Tibbets Jr. – were all in the Army Air Forces and were among the 191 people killed at Hickam Field, Hawaii’s principal Army airfield and bomber base.

Allen’s closest surviving relative is a cousin, Beverly Prosser Gelwick of Harpswell, who never met him. She was just 8 when Pearl Harbor was attacked and remembers people crying as the bells rang in Lisbon Falls. She didn’t learn about Allen and his military service until earlier this year when the Navy notified her that he had been identified in 2021.

“She was amazed. She’s honored that he is finally being honored and identified,” said her daughter, Jennifer Gelwick-Luecke of Portland. “It’s pretty emotional for her. It’s an amazing thing that he’s finally found his peace.”


Allen was born on July 17, 1916, the son of Elmer and Stella Allen. He attended Gould Academy in Bethel, where he was president of the YMCA, senior class treasurer, prominent in public speaking and had lead parts in plays. He also played football, basketball and baseball.


“For the last two seasons he has played a stellar game at center on the basketball team, champions and runners-up respectively at the Lewiston Smaller Schools tournaments. On the football team he starred as an end on the undefeated team of last Fall and in baseball is a regular pitcher and outfielder,” read a description of his accomplishments published in the Press Herald on March 11, 1934.

Stanley W. Allen, a graduate of Gould Academy in Bethel, was chosen to present the class gift at his graduation in 1934, according to this clipping published in the Maine Sunday Telegram on March 11, 1934. Portland Press Herald archives

Allen hoped to pursue a career in the hotel and restaurant industry and spent seven summers working at the Bethel Inn, according to his obituary. He later went to Wentworth-by-the-Sea in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where he worked until he was appointed a cadet at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. After a year of training, Allen returned to civilian life.

He enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick in 1934 and spent summers working at the Kimball House in Northeast Harbor. After graduating from Bowdoin in 1939, he was hired as manager of the Bethel Restaurant.

“The thing we’re really impressed by was how motivated he was. He really wanted to go into hotel and restaurant service. He worked toward that every summer,” Gelwick-Luecke said. “He also knew he wanted to be in the service.”

On Oct. 8, 1940, about a month after the U.S. began to send aid to the Allies in World War II, Allen went to Boston to enlist in the U.S. Naval Reserves as a seaman second class. He was appointed an aviation cadet on Jan. 15, 1941. He trained at the U.S. Naval Reserve base in Boston and the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, according to the Navy. His job was to fly floatplanes to scout the locations of the enemy.

“He must have had nerves of steel to do that,” Gelwick-Luecke said. “He knew who he was and what he wanted to do.”


Allen was appointed as a naval aviator on June 26, 1941, and assigned to Observation Squadron One on the Oklahoma.

Stanley Allen trained at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, after he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves in October 1940.   Portland Press Herald archives

He was killed in action 165 days later.


The attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor came in two waves. The Oklahoma was among the first vessels hit and many of the crew who were sleeping in their racks below decks never made it to the main deck, according to the Navy.

The ship began capsizing as Japanese planes pelted the deck with machine gun fire. Torpedoes tore open its port side. After the ship rolled over, the men trapped inside banged on the bulkhead, hoping to get someone’s attention. During the next two days, 32 surviving men were pulled through holes cut in the exposed bottom of the ship.

The banging continued for three days, but the men were below the water line and nothing could be done to save them. Sailors standing watch outside could only wait and listen until the banging stopped, according to the Navy.


When the ship was righted three years later in 1944, the Navy recovered the remains of 429 sailors. Only 35 could be identified.

The remaining bodies were first buried in two cemeteries, then disinterred in 1947 in an unsuccessful attempt to identify the men. In 1950, they were reburied in 61 caskets in 45 graves at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The Department of Defense announced in 2015 that the unidentified remains would be exhumed for DNA analysis. Since then, 356 sailors and Marines have been identified using medical and dental records and DNA samples provided by their surviving families.

Allen was identified on June 14, 2021. A rosette was placed next to his name on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl to indicate he has been accounted for.

That year, on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the final 33 sailors who remain unidentified were reinterred at the Punchbowl.

Identifying the remains is important to help families find closure and to allow the Navy to honor the sailors who paid the ultimate sacrifice, said Timothy Hunter, acting director of Navy Casualty Assistance, which serves as a liaison between wounded Naval service people and their families. Often, families tell him that they did not believe their sailor had died or they held out hope that someday he would walk through the door.

“Most often the notification and identification briefing is emotional, overwhelming and relieving all at the same time for the families,” he said in a statement. “Most families cannot believe their loved ones were recovered after so many years, they prayed or hoped to have closure someday.”

Gelwick, Allen’s cousin, is now 90 and too ill to attend the burial, but her children will be there in her place. It has been surprisingly emotional to learn about Allen and to take part in bringing him home to Maine, Gelwick-Luecke said.

“He’s home now to be buried. That brings my mother great comfort.”

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