Remains of 2 sets of brothers killed in Pearl Harbor attack returned to family

Decades after attack on Pearl Harbor the remains of two American brothers returned to family

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly eight decades after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the remains of two American brothers killed in the bombing have been returned to relatives in Washington.

Like many others, DNA evidence has now helped the family close a tragic chapter.

Calvin and Wilfred Palmer were working below the deck on the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941 when Japanese forces attacked.

The Palmers were among 429 crewmen on the Oklahoma who perished that day.

A new effort at trying to make positive identifications of unknown remains from the attack began in 2015 using anthropological analysis and DNA testing.

The brothers’ relatives provided a DNA sample, then this year they learned that the remains of Calvin and Wilfred had been accounted for.

Helene Jenson, the brother’s niece, attended their services last week.

“It was very touching," Jenson said. "This was something that they really wanted to have happen.”

The remains of two brothers killed in Pearl Harbor were returned home to their surviving family members 78 years later.
The remains of two brothers killed in Pearl Harbor were returned home to their surviving family members 78 years later.

The return of the men’s remains 78 years later provides some closure for surviving family members, like their 96-year-old sister Doris Palmer.

She was just a teenager when her brothers joined the Navy.

“I used to dream about them," she said.

Doris is proof that the pain of war never goes away.

“You wake up with it in the morning, you go to bed with it at night. You hurt all the time.”

Calvin and Wilfred were laid to rest in the city of Port Orchard with full military honors.

Band of Brothers

Of the more than 400,000 Americans killed in World War Two, more than 72,000 remain unaccounted for.

Rudolph and Leo Blitz were only 20 when they died in the same attack on the USS Oklahoma.

“They (family) got the wire that they were missing in action about 6:30 on Christmas Eve, 1941,” said Sandra Cox, a niece.

Last week, the twin brothers from Nebraska also found their final resting place with the help of the DNA testing.

Rudolph and Leo Blitz were only 17 when they enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Rudolph and Leo Blitz were only 17 when they enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

The twin’s unidentified remains had been buried in Hawaii until the USS Oklahoma Remains Preservation Project started.

The project works with the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to exhume and identify unknown remains from the USS Oklahoma.

“It was really exciting to be able to identify both of them,” said Carrie LeGarde, a Forensic Anthropologist of the USS Oklahoma Remains Preservation Project.

At funeral services this past weekend in Lincoln, family members say they were overjoyed to know the Blitz twins are finally home. “They were brothers to the end,” Cox said.

Remains of twin service members killed in Pearl Harbor attack returned to family in Nebraska

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