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80 years later, brothers killed in Pearl Harbor attack will finally get their military funeral

Updated: May. 24, 2021 at 4:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Harold Trapp and his younger brother, William, were born in Chicago and raised in La Porte, Indiana.

They did everything together, including joining the U.S. Navy in 1939.

“When they joined and enlisted, they enlisted on the same day ― together,” said their niece, Carol Sowar. Her mother, Irene, was their only other sibling.

“I know how much it bothered her not being able to see them buried in a dignified manner,” Sowar said.

On Dec. 7, 1941, the brothers were among 429 crewmen killed when Japan’s fighter planes torpedoed and capsized the USS Oklahoma battleship.

In November, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced it had identified their remains.

“When I got the call, I broke down and cried and cried and cried,” Carol said.

The first person she called was her son, David, who lives on Oahu and had been following the DPAA process. His work often takes him to Pearl Harbor.

“Just going and seeing their names on the memorial for the Oklahoma, it’s surreal, very emotional,” he said.

The DPAA analyzed dental, anthropological and genetic evidence to pinpoint the brothers’ from among other remains co-mingled in graves at the National Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl. The plots were exhumed in 2015.

“I can’t express how grateful I am to the DPAA,” Carol Sowar said.

On June 15, the brothers’ remains will be re-buried at Punchbowl, this time with full military honors.

“It feels so good being here and knowing I’m here, and they’re going to be here too and soon.” David said.

The Trapp’s last letter to their parents was dated Dec. 6, 1941, the day before they would die during Japan’s surprise attack.

It took 80 years to finally and formally lay them to rest.

“It is bringing closure and peace. I think peace more than anything,” Carol said.

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