Body Of Utahn Killed At Pearl Harbor Returns Home

Aug 16, 2018, 5:48 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2018, 1:42 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A Utah marine killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 77 years ago will finally be buried with full military honors in Salt Lake City Monday.

Over the decades, Marine Corps Private First Class Robert Kimball was presumed dead, but his family was left with many questions. His remains were not identified until three months ago. Now, they can bring their hero home.

“I was named after him, which is very important to me,” said nephew Bob Holmes.

He was only 6 years old when his namesake was killed at Pearl Harbor on the USS Oklahoma December 7, 1941.

The Salt Lake native had joined the Marines one year earlier. His nephew recalled that the marine had been home once that year on leave.

“I remembered that he had a look in his eye that said, ‘I am a Holmes boy, I’m also a marine. Don’t mess with me,'” said Bob Holmes.

He also remembered the day his 19-year-old uncle died.

“I remember dad dragging us into the car in kind of a panic mode,” he said. “We’ve got to go down to Gramp’s (grandfather’s home). Something horrible has happened.”

There, the whole family listened to news of Pearl Harbor on the radio.

“Everybody was frantically worried about Bob,” said the nephew.

The family had no information on what had happened to Pfc. Holmes until a telegram arrived a month later informing the family that the marine was missing and presumed dead.

They received a letter from the military that declared him officially dead a few weeks later. The family had no real answers for over seven decades.

“We wanted to know what happened to Bob,” said his nephew, flipping through old family pictures.

Of the 429 crewmen killed on the USS Oklahoma that day, 388 were not identified, including Private Holmes.

In 2017, the family discovered DNA analysis was underway to identify human remains that had been exhumed in Hawaii. Another nephew submitted a DNA sample. On May 9, the partial remains of Private Robert K. Holmes were positively identified.

“I don’t know if you can really mourn somebody from 77 years ago,” said the nephew. “But, it’s been so exciting to the family to finally have Uncle Bob brought home.”

It was resolution to a journey that began at the start of World War II.

“He died, really, as a hero. I’d like to think that I have lived up to his standards,” said the nephew.

The remains of Pfc. Robert K. Holmes were expected to be flown into Salt Lake City Friday night. A Marine Honor Guard planned to take the flag-draped coffin off of the plane and escort the body to the mortuary.

The marine will be buried with full military honors in the Salt Lake City Cemetery Monday at 10 a.m.

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Body Of Utahn Killed At Pearl Harbor Returns Home