Body Of Utahn Killed At Pearl Harbor To Be Buried in Salt Lake City

Aug 17, 2018, 10:41 PM | Updated: Aug 18, 2018, 1:45 am


SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – For more than seven decades the remains of Private First Class Robert Holmes of Utah laid in the military cemetery in Hawaii. His tombstone bore no name and only the words, “unidentified Marine – U.S.S Oklahoma. On Friday, his remains finally returned home.

“He was the little brother,” said Bob Holmes of his late uncle as he waited at the airport. “All the big brothers took care of Bobby.”

Nobody likes to wait.

“Come on Marines,” Bob said under his breath as the minutes ticked by waiting for the flight to land.

Every second felt like an eternity.

Most of the nearly 100 people in attendance at the homecoming have never met Private Holmes. However, the man who was named after him has never forgotten.

“I remember he looked just like these Marines walking around,” Bob said. “I wanted to be just like. I’m old enough to remember when he came home on leave before Pearl Harbor.”

Bob was just 6 years old the last time he saw his uncle. Private Holmes was aboard the U.S.S Oklahoma on December 7, 1941. The battleship capsized, trapping many sailors. Privates Holmes’ remains were never identified.

“What gets me is he was just a 19-year-old kid,” said another nephew, Bruce Holmes.

For Bob and Bruce Holmes, their uncle seemed lost to history.

“It’s a lot of time to go by,” said Bruce.

This last spring, with the help of DNA, the military positively identified Private Holmes and gave the family a choice.

“We could either have him reburied in Hawaii with an appropriate marker or bring him home, so we said, ‘bring him home’,” Bob said.

The homecoming may be long overdue. Many of those who knew the man who lost his life are now gone as well. For Private Robert Holmes, his wait is finally over.

“A journey that started 77 years ago has finally come to an end,” Bob said.

A funeral will be held on Monday for Private Holmes. He will be buried in Salt Lake City.

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Body Of Utahn Killed At Pearl Harbor To Be Buried in Salt Lake City