Military Funeral Marks ‘Completion of a Journey’ For Utah Family, Marine Killed At Pearl Harbor
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A family finally received Monday what it had been seeking for nearly 77 years – full military honors and a proper burial for their Marine killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Private First Class Robert Holmes was presumed killed after the USS Oklahoma capsized on Dec. 7, 1941, but it wasn’t until May that the U.S. Marine Corps verified the death through a relative’s DNA test.
Monday morning, dozens of family, friends and others gathered at Salt Lake City Cemetery to pay their respects at a military service.
“We’ve all been waiting for something like this,” said Holmes nephew, also named Robert Holmes. “We think his dad – ‘grandpa,’ my dad – his brother are all just happy as anything that we’ve done this.”
For decades, what happened to the Marine was something of an unanswered question, but the military was able to identify several bones belonging to Holmes after his nephew Bruce Holmes submitted his DNA.
It took a little over a year before scientists came back and said they had a match, family members said.
Last month, officials from the Marine Corps traveled to Utah to brief the family and present them with a packet on their loved one that included a diagram of the precise bones identified.
The Holmes family said it was told the Marine likely drowned.
Holmes was remembered Monday as an expert marksman.
His nephew also disclosed that Holmes was engaged to be married.
“About 388 of the deaths on the Oklahoma were still unidentified as of a year ago,” the nephew said. “Only 70 have been sent home to family or reburied with proper markers. It’s an amazing thing – yeah we are, we’re very fortunate.”
The nephew said he didn’t believe in the word “closure,” but instead viewed Monday’s funeral as the “completion of a journey.”
“We just completed our quest,” he said. “That’s all I can say about that one.”
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