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Illinois Sailor Killed In Pearl Harbor Is Finally Laid To Rest 80 Years Later

A sailor who was killed in the Pearl Harbor attacks nearly 81 years ago has finally been laid to rest in his home state of Illinois.

Sailor Killed In Pearl Harbor Is Finally Brought Home

Fox News [3] reported that earlier this month, U.S. Navy Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Keith Tipsword was finally buried in Moccasin Cemetery near Beecher City in a plot next to his parents and other family members. He was only 27 years-old when he was killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 while serving on the battleship USS West Virginia.

Though Tipsword’s remains were found immediately after the attack, they were labeled as unknown and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. It wasn’t until earlier this year that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was able to identify the remains as being those of Tipsword. 

“During efforts to salvage the USS West Virginia (shortly after the attack), Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crewmen, representing at least 66 individuals,” the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said in a statement, according to My Journal Courier [4]. “Those who could not be identified, including Tipsword, were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.”

“From June through October 2017, DPAA, in cooperation with cemetery officials, disinterred 35 caskets reported to be associated with the USS West Virginia from the Punchbowl and transferred the remains to the DPAA laboratory,” the statement added. “To identify Tipsword’s remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.”

Find out more about this in the video below.

Related: Veterans Call For America To ‘Unite’ On 80th Anniversary Of Pearl Harbor [5]

Tipsword’s Funeral 

Around 60 motorcyclists from the Patriot Guard Riders escorted Tipsword’s casket on its journey from St. Louis to Effingham, where around a dozen of them participated in the funeral.

The service was attended by Tipsword’s sister Dalyne Sapp, 86, who is the last survivor of his seven siblings. She expressed her happiness that her brother is now buried close to the family farm he grew up on by the “hills and hollers” of Effingham County’s Moccasin Township.

“It’s wonderful. It warms my heart, for sure,” she said. 

Jerry White, one of Tipsword’s relatives, thanked the crowd attending the funeral for all that they did to help out. 

“You’re all part of this celebration,” White said, before telling Sapp, “You are finally receiving the closure that you so richly deserve.”

Related: Last Surviving ‘Band Of Brothers’ Officer Dies At 99 – This Is The Incredible Story Of Edward Shames [9]

Other Relatives Speak Out

Sapp’s son Brett said that this experience has made him feel closer to the uncle he never got to meet. 

“Keith for a long time to us was someone we heard about, someone we might have known existed,” he explained. “But he wasn’t real to us, and today helps that feel more real.” 

He went on to give credit to the Navy for ensuring that Tipsword’s remains made it home safely. 

“It didn’t take over 80 years because the Navy didn’t care,” he said. “They did what they could with what they had.”

Kenny Tipsword, a cousin of the fallen sailor, said that this finally brings closure to his family. 

“It’s been 81 years,” he said. “It’s sad enough when a person dies in defense of our country. And then to not know for sure where his remain are … But now the sailor is home from the sea.”

We would like to thank Keith Tipsword for the sacrifice that he made for his country, and we’re glad that he’s finally home with his family, where he belongs.