Navy sailor killed at Pearl Harbor finally laid to rest

Seaman First Class Robert Monroe 'Bobby' Temple (pictured), who has been MIA since Pearl Harbor, has been laid to rest after the US Navy were able to identify his remains using DNA testing

Seaman First Class Robert Monroe 'Bobby' Temple (pictured), who has been MIA since Pearl Harbor, has been laid to rest after the US Navy were able to identify his remains using DNA testing

Seaman First Class Robert Monroe ‘Bobby’ Temple (pictured), who has been MIA since Pearl Harbor, has been laid to rest after the US Navy were able to identify his remains using DNA testing

A US sailor who has been missing in action ever since the Pearl Harbor attacks has finally been laid to rest. 

The family of Navy Seaman First Class Robert Monroe ‘Bobby’ Temple say they have finally found closure after the US Navy was able to identify his remains through DNA testing.

On Saturday, veterans, scouts, and members of the local high school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps lined the streets along the route of the funeral procession in the village of Shiloh, Illinois.

The procession ended at Faith Family Church where a public funeral service was held with presentation of Naval military honors. Temple’s remains will lie in state until Monday where they will be returned to Hawaii for committal to his final resting place at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Honolulu.

Temple, of Wathena, Kansas, was just 19 years old when his ship, the USS Oklahoma, was hit with nine torpedoes in the surprise attack on Pear Harbor on December 7, 1941. The ship sank within minutes, claiming the lives of all 429 crewmen aboard.

More than 2,400 Americans were killed that fateful day, including dozens of civilians. 

The United States had not declared war on Axis countries at that time. It had frozen Japanese assets and cut off its access to wartime materials through an embargo in response to the country’s invasion of China and French Indochina, however. 

Temple's flag draped coffin was carried from the hearse to the church by members of the Navy

Temple's flag draped coffin was carried from the hearse to the church by members of the Navy

Temple’s flag draped coffin was carried from the hearse to the church by members of the Navy

On Saturday, veterans, scouts, and members of the local high school's Reserve Officers' Training Corps lined the streets along the route of the funeral procession in the village of Shiloh, Illinois

On Saturday, veterans, scouts, and members of the local high school's Reserve Officers' Training Corps lined the streets along the route of the funeral procession in the village of Shiloh, Illinois

On Saturday, veterans, scouts, and members of the local high school’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps lined the streets along the route of the funeral procession in the village of Shiloh, Illinois

Prime Minister Tōjō Hideki ordered a strike on the U.S. Pacific fleet, destroying the USS Arizona, capsizing the USS Oklahoma and sinking the California, Nevada, and West Virginia.  

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared it a ‘date which will live in infamy’ and Congress near unanimously voted to authorize the country’s entry into World War II the next day.

Two years later, the Navy were able to raise the sunken ships – including the USS Oklahoma.

All the remains of the crew were recovered but only 34 were able to be identified by their dental records. 

The remaining bodies were all placed in a mass grave at Pearl Harbor marked ‘Unknown’ and lay untouched until 2015, when the U.S. Navy decided to exhume the bodies to use DNA testing to once again try and identify them.

Temple was just 19 years old when his ship, the USS Oklahoma, was hit with nine torpedoes in the surprise attack on Pear Harbor on December 7, 1941  (pictured, another ship, the USS Shaw explodes in the Pearl Harbor attack)

Temple was just 19 years old when his ship, the USS Oklahoma, was hit with nine torpedoes in the surprise attack on Pear Harbor on December 7, 1941  (pictured, another ship, the USS Shaw explodes in the Pearl Harbor attack)

Temple was just 19 years old when his ship, the USS Oklahoma, was hit with nine torpedoes in the surprise attack on Pear Harbor on December 7, 1941  (pictured, another ship, the USS Shaw explodes in the Pearl Harbor attack)

The American battleship 'Arizona' on fire sinking after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor, 7th December 1941

The American battleship 'Arizona' on fire sinking after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor, 7th December 1941

The American battleship ‘Arizona’ on fire sinking after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl Harbor, 7th December 1941

After more than 70 years of being MIA, Temple was finally identified and his family were identified.

His brother James Temple said laying him to rest, ‘brings… a real sweet comfort.

‘At least I know the truth,’ he said, adding that the funeral gave the family the ‘opportunity to honor him’.

Bobby Temple was born in Wathena, Kansas as the second child of James Monroe Temple and the late Elizabeth Jane nee Hoke.

He signed up to the Navy when he was 18 and lost his life just one year later in the Pearl Harbor attacks.

Temple is survived by his brother James, sister Barbara Johnson, and several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.


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