Remains of unidentified Iowa sailor return home 75 years after he died at Pearl Harbor

Siouxland family members celebrate the end of Ffc William Kennedy's journey

TITONKA, Iowa - Losing a loved one in war,  is heart breaking.

And when relatives don't get the chance to bring that family member home the pain can be never ending.

For the family of Iowa sailor William Kennedy, it took more than 70 years to find that closure.

Last week, when his previously unidentified remains came home, cousins from Siouxland were at his side, finally getting the chance to say good bye..

The big thrill was to bring him home to Aunt Lizzy.  She never gave up hope that he would come home one day and he did on Mother's Day and it was just beautiful," said cousin Lorrie McNally.

For McNally and a handful of fellow cousins now loving in Siouxland, Fireman First Class William Kennedy's journey home started about 14 years ago when improvements in DNA testing allowed the Navy to start unearthing the remains of hundreds of unidentified Marines and sailors who died aboard the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

After being buried in a Honolulu cemetery for decades, families could only wait for word of an identification match.
This January Kennedy's relatives got the news.

"She said your never going to believe this but Willie has been identified.  I said oh no, we were just giddy about it that it actually had happened," said McNally.

"I just didn't see how it could possibly be done.  But with today's science is so advanced it's unbelieveable," said fellow cousin," Dick Graham.

And military DNA specalists in Maryland are continuing their work reuniting families with loved ones, lost in war.

Kennedy's remains were brought back to Titonka, Iowa last weekfor burial something his mother had always helpd out hope.

"She'd hold my hand and point up and say that's my Willie andhe was killed at Pearl Harbor but he will be back some day.  The headstone she had there for him all the years ago.  The coffin was sitting there behind it and I though this is what it's all about.  He's finally been brought home," said McNally.

"While the funeral and at the cemetery could have been not too much of a funeral or whatever but it was a big celebration," said cousin Jim Graham.

A warmth, washing over family and unknown freinds finally able to complete this story of sacrifice tat stretches over three quarters of a century.

"I think he's come to rest, to know that there is a home," said Dick Graham.

Kennedy actually has a fourth cousin living in Siouxland.  Mary Helgevold from Hawarden.

The closest living relative is from colorado and the reconnected relatives tell us Kennedy's farewell is actually a new beginning for those who never knew each other until last week.

 

 

 


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