DIAMOND — Seventy-six years after his death onboard the U.SS. Oklahoma, Seaman First Class Clifford George Goodwin, 24, Diamond, came home.

DIAMOND — Seventy-six years after his death onboard the U.SS. Oklahoma, Seaman First Class Clifford George Goodwin, 24, Diamond, came home.
On Saturday, more than 100 people - which included 60 of his family - attended the memorial service at Diamond's First Baptist Church and then was laid to rest at the Diamond Cemetery.
"Today, a hero has come home, a hero is in our midst," said Rev. Phillip McClendon, who gave the message. "The word 'hero' is a person who admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements. And we are right in the midst of a hero. Today, our world is looking for heroes, we want to see people who we can respect, people who we can depend upon. You know what, today that person is here."
"Clifford went down with the U.S.S. Oklahoma when it capsized and rolled on Dec. 7, 1941," said Tausha Kruse Johnson, the great niece of Clifford G. Goodwin, in an earlier interview with the Neosho Daily News. "His remains were buried in a mass grave in the Punch Bowl until 2013, when the Department of Navy exhumed all remains and started the DNA process to identify all MIA soldiers."
According to information provided, "the identification of Clifford's remains came with advance in forensic science and matching DNA analysis samples submitted by family members. The request for DNA samples was that they should come from the closest relative on the maternal side of the family. Clifford's closest next of kin, one niece, and also two great nieces from the maternal side submitted DNA samples... After Clifford's remains were identified, his official records were changed to 'killed in action' rather than 'missing in action.' Of the 429 sailors and Marines lost on that day, about 117 individuals' remains from the ship have been identified."
"What we think about this day, I think about just the privilege of being here in the presence of this man and the remembrance of Clifford's life," said McClendon. "When you think about that, (Sunday) we also celebrate Mother's Day. And let us not ever forget the men and women who have their children, Clifford was 19 years old, he didn't run from the military, in fact he enlisted at 19 years old. But not only that, his mother, Clara, had 12 children and five of those boys served in the United States armed forces. I think that is a responsible thing."
In his closing remarks, McClendon said, "although Clifford is not here, the respect and the honor and the enlistment in the U.S. Navy, all of those things were part of (his life). But it didn't end with him, because of the graciousness, the kindness, and the carrying that comes from this family and each other that is part of his mom and dad and of Clifford's life."
Clifford's body was transported to the cemetery,with  Patriot Guard riders from Tulsa,  Okla., leading the way. Once at the cemetery, Clifford's casket was carried by U.S. Navy pallbearers, to his final resting place.
The casket - draped with the U.S. flag - was then presented to Clifford's first niece, Mary Louise Putnam.
"Today (Saturday, May 12), Clifford has come home in Diamond, Mo.," said McClendon.