Remains Of Utah Man Killed In Pearl Harbor Attacks Finally Return Home

Jun 1, 2021, 7:03 PM | Updated: 8:38 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — After nearly 80 years, the remains of a Utah man killed and missing from the attacks on Pearl Harbor have returned home.

You often see people at the Salt Lake City International Airport wearing leis around their necks. Usually, it’s for a trip to Hawaii.

“Aloha!” said Sharon Senecal as she put a lei over another family members neck. “Here we go!”

For one family, though, they weren’t going to Hawaii. Instead, they were welcoming someone home from Hawaii, someone who has been gone for nearly 80 years.

“Today is a very special day,” said Senecal. “He joined the Navy in 1940.”

Senecal was talking about her uncle, Theodore Jensen, who was killed during the attacks at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Jensen grew up in Sutherland in Millard County and graduated from Delta High School.

He was serving on the USS Oklahoma when the Japanese attacked the American military base.

Jensen’s body was never found.

“We were told he was missing in action, then a few weeks later, they said he was killed in action; then two years later, they said his remains were unknown,” said Senecal, who was five years old at the time. “Then, in about 1949, they sent us a note and said there is no possibility of you ever having any remains of this fallen hero. So, in 1949, we just said he’s gone.”

Of course, the family always wondered what happened to Uncle Theo.

“My aunts and uncles, mother and father, all really missed him and really found it hard to accept the fact he was gone,” said Theo Brasher, one of Jensen’s nephews.

Brasher was born a couple years after Jensen died and was named after him.

“I have always considered it an honor,” he said.

A few months ago, the family got a call from the U.S. Navy about identifying remains they had found.

“I couldn’t believe it. I said, ‘Oh my, this is a scam,’” said Senecal with a laugh.

Sure enough, using DNA samples from family, Jensen’s remains were identified.

The Navy also made plans to bring him back home to Delta.

“It’s something we always wanted, but just never figured it was going to happen,” said John Jensen, who is another one of Jensen’s nephews.

The family gathered at the Salt Lake City International Airport Tuesday afternoon to welcome him home.

Airport security and operations workers escorted them onto the tarmac, and when a Southwest Airlines flights pulled into gate B-20, the family couldn’t believe Jensen was home.

“I don’t know how to put into words how we feel,” said John Jensen. “We’re just, we’re over the moon.”

After the family said a quick prayer over his American flag-draped casket, members of the U.S. Navy carried him into a hearse.

From there, a procession of Utah Highway Patrol, Millard County Sheriff’s Office, the Patriot Guard Riders and family members traveled to Delta.

A memorial service has been planned for Wednesday afternoon. After that, Jensen will be buried in the Delta Cemetery, next to the American Legion Post that was named after him several years ago.

“It was just an amazing feat to all of a sudden say, ‘Here he is! He’s home,'” said Senecal. “We don’t have to worry about where he was — did he stay on the ship? Did he get off the ship? Where was he? He’s home.”

The family of Theodore Jensen, who died during the Pearl Harbor attacks, gather at the Salt Lake City International Airport to welcome him home. (Alex Cabrero/KSL TV) Theodore Jensen’s niece thanks members of the U.S. Navy for being at the SLC Airport to welcome her uncle home. (Alex Cabrero/KSL TV) The Southwest Airlines flight carrying Theodore Jensen's remains pulls into gate B-20 at the Salt Lake City International Airport. (Alex Cabrero/KSL TV) Members of the U.S. Navy carry Theodore Jensen’s remains to the hearse to bring him home to Delta. (Alex Cabrero/KSL TV) Members of the U.S. Navy stand in silence as Theodore Jensen’s remains are loaded into the hearse. (Alex Cabrero/KSL TV)
KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Man accused of exposing himself at Utah store...
Shara Park

Man accused of exposing himself to underage girls at Utah store

The owner of Rad Swim in Highland is warning Utah families after she says a man exposed himself to her associate and several young girls in her store Monday evening.
1 day ago
High school teammates play in Super Bowl...
Ayanna Likens

2 former Stansbury High School teammates to faceoff in the Super Bowl

Two former Stansbury High School football teammates will face each other as rivals in the Super Bowl.
1 day ago
HOV lanes for pregnant women...
Katija Stjepovic

House passes bill allowing pregnant women to drive solo in HOV lanes

Pregnant women may soon be allowed to drive solo in HOV lanes after a bill allowing just that passed in the Utah House of Representatives Friday.
1 day ago
(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon & Eliza Pace

KSL+: Healing in schools after Enoch tragic shooting

In the weeks following the tragic shooting in Enoch that killed five children, the school community continues to feel the impact.
1 day ago
FILE (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for UNITAS)...
Madison Swenson

Two Utah county men, business charged with $11M COVID tax fraud scheme

Two Utah County men, as well as an accounting business in Provo, have been charged with a COVID-related tax fraud scheme totaling more than $11 million.
1 day ago
Elk herd near Parleys Canyon...
Jed Boal

3 elk die after herd wanders onto roads near Parleys Canyon

A large herd of elk continues to keep motorists and state troopers on high alert near the mouth of Parleys Canyon.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Remains Of Utah Man Killed In Pearl Harbor Attacks Finally Return Home