UPSTATE, S.C. (WSPA) – December 7, 1941 is a day the United States will never forget, the attack on Pearl Harbor. That’s when the Japanese launched a surprise air strike on the U.S. naval base and more than 24-hundred Americans died.

Seven soldiers of those killed were from the Upstate of South Carolina: Wayne Alman Lewis from Spartanburg, John Morgan Meares from Anderson, Douglas Carlton Moore from Anderson, James Carlton Moore from Anderson, James Garland Nations from Six Mile, Broadus Franklin West from Simpsonville, and Vernon Russell White from Spartanburg.

“We read Congressman Duncan’s email looking for the next of kin for the people who died on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor,” said Tom Von Kaenel. “The problem is they’re in comingled graves.”

Von Kaenel is the co-founder of the Semper Fi Barn in Six Mile. It’s a place for veterans to gather.

The barn held a ceremony in August to remember the soldiers killed…

They are trying to find their family members through DNA analysis. So far, there’s been at least one connection made.

“Who couldn’t be honored by someone that, you know, lost their life on USS Arizona? I’m honored to have his name,” said Cameron Nations.

Cameron is the nephew of James Garland Nations, one of the soldiers killed.

“As a child, listening to father and aunt talk about how it was with our grandparents…,” he began to explain to 7 NEWS. “Not having that closure, not having Garland at home after his death…”

The national program called “Operation 85” helps link families to crew members killed.

Cameron Nations said it’s not only given his family a sense of peace… It’s also helped them meet new relatives.

“Garland died many years before Kenneth was born and so we’ve only heard tales, stories about their family members at family dinners and what have you. So what a blessing to get to meet these boys,” said Carolyn Nations.

Carolyn’s husband is a relative of James Garland Nations as well.

She told 7 NEWS once they saw Congressman Jeff Duncan’s email looking for family members, they reached out and said they are grateful they did.

“If you are a family member of one of these men that are on that list, contact your congressman,” Carolyn Nations said. “Get Operation 85 information so that you too, can give a sample of DNA, and hopefully, your relatives will be identified and bring closure to your family.”

To the seven South Carolinians who lost their lives… Thank You for Your Service.

To submit a nomination for our Thank You for Your Service series, click here.