Pearl Harbor sailor comes house for burial — 77 years after he died


About 15 family members on Wednesday walked onto the tarmac of South Carolina’s Greenville-Spartanburg Worldwide Airport. They watched as a flag-draped coffin was lowered from the airplane right into a hearse.

“There was nothing however useless silence,” Carl’s 70-year-old nephew, Thomas Dorr, who lives in St. Johns, Florida, advised CNN. “I knew that what I used to be experiencing was historical past.”

Carl David Dorr, one of many 429 sailors and Marines killed on board the united statesOklahoma when it was sunk within the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor, can be laid to relaxation on Friday — the assault’s anniversary.

Solely 35 individuals on the ship have been positively recognized and buried within the years instantly following the December 7, 1941 navy strike, in line with the Protection Division. The unidentified stays have been buried as unknowns on the Nationwide Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, which fills the Punchbowl crater in Honolulu.

The Protection Division — following a push by a Pearl Harbor survivor — lately has been working to exhume these our bodies. Utilizing fashionable advances in know-how, it’s figuring out the stays to present members of the family the closure and commemoration they’ve lengthy awaited.

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On Wednesday, the Dorr household took three limos and a hearse again to a funeral house in Greenville. Police and the Patriot Guard escorted them, Thomas Dorr stated. The processional handed legislation enforcement and hearth officers who provided a salute as they directed site visitors.

A hearth truck parked on an overpass draped a flag above them.

As soon as they arrived on the funeral house, the household despatched Thomas in first to see Carl’s casket. He had studied Pearl Harbor, and he felt like he had an in depth connection together with his uncle due to his love for his grandmother.

Thomas knelt down subsequent to the coffin, put his hand over it and wept, he stated. He wept for Carl, who belonged again at house. He wept for Carl’s mother and father, who missed him a lot.

“I used to be crying tears for them,” Thomas stated.

Portrait of Carl David Dorr who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Oklahoma

A toddler of the Nice Despair

Carl was one in all six youngsters within the Dorr family, however misplaced a sibling to rheumatic fever as a toddler. He labored as a projectionist in a Greenville space movie show, in line with Thomas, and through the Nice Despair he supported his household with the cash he made there.

Whereas within the Navy, Carl despatched his mother and father again house the playing cards he acquired, asking that they put the letters in a chest he constructed together with his father. Carl needed to maintain them and put them in a scrapbook, Thomas stated.

However the 27-year-old fireman second class wouldn’t make it house.

In Pearl Harbor, the battleship affectionately recognized to crew members as “The Okie” capsized about 12 minutes after the primary of quite a few torpedo strikes. Lots of have been trapped in a darkish, watery tomb beneath her decks, marking the second biggest lack of life that day.

Carl’s household gathered across the radio on December 7, 1941, Thomas Dorr stated. They knew Carl’s ship had been attacked. They held out hope he survived.

They have been advised he was lacking in motion. Then, they realized, he was presumed useless.

After the Protection Division started DNA assortment in 2009, his household supplied samples in hopes that in the future it could assist determine Carl’s physique, his nephew stated.

His mom saved an heirloom {photograph} in her front room “so she may regulate him,” Thomas Dorr stated. She was in a position to see her son day by day, even when he by no means made it house in any respect.

‘Historical past repeating itself’

Carl Dorr in a photo released by the US Navy when his remains were identified.

Thomas Dorr is aware of that {photograph} effectively.

He was 20 when he completed boot camp. He visited Mama John’s home (his grandmother and Carl’s mom), in Greenville, South Carolina, a lean 6 foot 2 and 180 kilos, wearing a khaki uniform and garrison cap.

Mama John had tears in her eyes, Thomas stated, and whispered to him “it is like Carl coming house from battle.”

She died a 12 months and a half later, Thomas stated. However not earlier than he pledged to her that he would honor Carl.

“I made that promise to her that my first-born son would bear his identify,” Thomas stated.

On June 2, 1976, Thomas grew to become a father to Carl David Dorr, who grew as much as enlist within the Navy proper out of highschool.

Thomas stated it is like “historical past repeating itself.”

The hassle to determine the stays

The late Ray Emory knew that a whole lot of households throughout the USA have been just like the Dorrs — mourning with out with the ability to lay their family members to relaxation.

Emory, a chief boatswain’s mate who manned a .50-caliber machine gun and fired at Japanese plane, survived the assault on Pearl Harbor.

Throughout a go to to the Nationwide Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Emory advised CNN in 2012, nobody may inform him even the place the stays have been buried.

So started Emory’s journey to get the stays of these misplaced on USS Oklahoma recognized.

Emory’s “analysis efforts” led to the 2003 disinterment of a single casket with the stays of USS Oklahoma crew members from the Punchbowl in 2003, stated Lt. Colonel Kenneth Hoffman, a spokesman for the Protection POW/MIA Accounting Company (DPAA).

“And his efforts have been key to in 2009, the Division of Protection starting the gathering of DNA household reference samples for all unidentified Oklahoma crew members; a precursor to DPAA commencing a challenge to determine all 394 people,” Hoffman stated.

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Since DPAA disinterred all unknown Oklahoma graves from the Punchbowl in 2015, 189 sailors and marines have been recognized and returned to their households, in line with Hoffman.

“We’re working onerous to determine the rest over the following two years,” he stated.

The proof used within the identification course of consists of historic information, materials proof, skeletal stays, dental materials, and the comparability of DNA from bones and tooth with household reference samples, Hoffman stated.

In response to the Protection POW/MIA Accounting Company, Carl Dorr’s stays have been exhumed in 2015. And due to dental information and DNA, they have been lastly recognized on July 25 of this 12 months.

Laying him to relaxation

Thomas stated he remembered seeing the chest Carl had reserved to carry onto his navy correspondence. For 30 years, he regarded for it, however nobody within the household knew the place it was.

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Then in 1998, whereas staying the evening at a cousin’s home in Georgia, he realized the cousin had been maintaining the chest in his storage for Thomas’ son, Carl’s namesake.

Thomas gave it to his father (Carl’s brother) for Father’s Day, he stated. Within the chest have been a whole lot of letters, USS Oklahoma menus from 1941, Carl’s navy ID and an image of the united statesOklahoma that he had was a submit card. Thomas stated his father collapsed over the chest and began wailing.

That 12 months, the household held a memorial service for Carl, together with his 4 residing siblings.

All that they had of Carl was his belongings within the chest, Thomas stated.

“It was a memorial service with the household to simply accept the truth that we really have been remembering his presence on earth.”

However this Friday — 77 years after he died — they may have extra of Carl than the photographs he took and the letters he wrote. They are going to bury him near members of the family, together with his mother and father.

“It is the tip of a narrative. He lived his life. He died for his nation. He is come house. The story ends now,” Thomas stated.

He paused. “However he’ll at all times be remembered,” he stated.

CNN’s Ray Sanchez and Phil Gast contributed to this report.

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