SHILOH, ILL. - After more than seven decades, U.S. Navy Seaman First Class Robert Monroe Temple has finally come home.
Temple was just 19 on Dec. 7, 1941.
"I remember our sitting around the radio at my aunts, quite a few of the family listening to the events of Pearl Harbor," recalled Temple's brother Jim who is now 87 years old.
On the day that will live in infamy, Bobby Temple was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was hit by Japanese torpedoes.
In the weeks that followed, three telegrams arrived at the Temple house. The first two to say he was missing; the last to declare him dead. It was gut wrenching news, especially for Bobby's mom.
"She was such a pleasant woman. Happy and all and she just changed and she was just sad all the time, "Jim Temple remembered.
429 men perished when the Oklahoma went down. Remains were recovered but many were unidentified, which is like reading the last chapter but not being able to close the book.
"I remember my mom always expressed this glimmer of hope that someway, somehow, someday he's going to show up because there was nobody to identify, "explained Bobby's nephew John Temple.
That is until a few months ago when a call came from the US Navy. Through DNA technology, the past could finally speak. They identified Bobby's remains.
"I swelled up with tears, "Jim Temple said.
Since Bobby Temple wasn't found for so many years, there was never a funeral. Never a memorial service. Never any closure. Until now.
Like a bookmark in their memories, he'd never been forgotten. But this was a chance to remember. Full military honors, in front of friends and strangers; veterans and family, from all over the country.
"Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, and some further away," said John Temple.
Arnold Kreek drove 300 miles to play Taps. He never met Bobby Temple but his dad did. They were friends.
Dean Kreek was a Pearl Harbor survivor.
"Dad passed away in 2010, so no way he could be here to know any of this was happening. And I just feel so honored to represent the family, "said Kreek.
More than anything, this service was to thank Robert Monroe Temple for his service.
"I have to say there's a bit of pride knowing that my uncle was one of those gave his life for my freedom, my liberty. He made a difference, "said John Temple through tears.
From knowing nothing to a day that meant everything. After 76 years, Bobby Temple finally reached the end of his journey.
"We have him home now, "John Temple said.
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