“Sailor Killed in Pearl Harbor Attack Finally Returns Home after 70 Years”

By | July 17, 2023



Seaman 1st Class Elmer Patterson Lawrence, a sailor from Barren County, Kentucky, who was killed in the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, will finally be laid to rest in his home state after more than 70 years of being unidentified. Lawrence, a native of Cave City, was serving aboard the USS Oklahoma battleship when the Japanese forces attacked on December 7, 1941.

The USS Oklahoma, moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, suffered multiple torpedo hits during the attack, causing it to capsize and resulting in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Lawrence. Over the years, the remains of the deceased crew were recovered and interred in various cemeteries.

In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency was able to identify Lawrence’s remains using modern DNA technology. Governor Andy Beshear expressed his sadness at the death of another young Kentuckian who died in the attack but also gratitude for the scientific and military efforts that led to Lawrence’s identification and return home.

Funeral services for Lawrence will be held at Shiloh General Baptist Church in Railton, Kentucky, on July 22, 2023, with burial immediately following at Shiloh Cemetery. In honor of Seaman 1st Class Lawrence, the governor has ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff on the day of his interment.

This long-awaited return of Lawrence’s remains serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who served in the armed forces during World War II. It also highlights the ongoing efforts of organizations like the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to identify and bring home the remains of fallen soldiers.

It is a bittersweet moment for the people of Barren County and Kentucky as a whole, as they welcome back one of their own while also reflecting on the tragic events of that fateful day in 1941. Lawrence’s return home will provide closure and allow his family and community to finally lay him to rest with the honor and respect he deserves..