SALT LAKE CITY — The remains of a Utah Marine who died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are finally coming home.
Marine Pfc. Robert Kimball Holmes was 19 years old when he died while serving aboard the USS Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941.
He died a day after he sent his a letter home to his father in Salt Lake City, his nephew, Bruce Holmes of Sandy, told the Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday, as he tried to imagine his grandfather receiving that letter days or weeks after learning his son had perished.
"It must have just really rattled him after his son's already dead," Bruce Holmes said. "Gosh. That'd get ya."
Nearly 77 years after his death, the Marine is finally returning to Salt Lake City thanks to a recent DNA match.
A casket carrying his remains was to arrive Friday night at the Salt Lake City International Airport. A military funeral for him will take place Monday at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
Robert K. Holmes was the youngest of seven children. All of his siblings are dead.
His 83-year-old nephew and Bruce Holmes' older brother, Robert J. Holmes, has childhood memories of the uncle he was named after.
He remembers his uncle as a man of strengthen and intensity.
"He had a look in his eye that 'I'm a Holmes boy and also a Marine, so don't mess with me,' " the nephew said.
He told the Deseret News that the family didn’t lose hope that their uncle’s remains would come home one day.
“I don’t know if you can really mourn somebody from 77 years ago,” he said. “But it’s been so exciting to the family to finally have Uncle Bob brought home.”