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Marine who went down with his ship at Pearl Harbor in World War II finally returns home to Utah

Posted at 10:02 PM, Aug 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-18 08:15:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY - It's not every day that a family reunion is held in an airport parking lot.

"This is extended family," said Adam Bazzelle. "A lot of them here I've never met."

Bazelle, his wife and two kids were joined by about 100 people outside a Delta hanger waiting for a special guest.

"My Great Uncle Bobby," Bazzelle said.

The thing is, they've never met their great uncle, Private First Class Robert Holmes. That's because he died during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II. The USS Oklahoma sank carrying hundreds of men on board with it. But recently, the U.S. military decided to surface the ships, bring out the remains and identify them through advanced DNA technology.

"Gets you doesn't it? It's an emotional thing," pointed out a teary-eyed Bruce Holmes, Private First Class Holmes's nephew. He has spent the last year trying to help researchers identify his uncle. As a result, on Friday, his remains were brought back to Salt Lake. In front of a military procession of highway patrol officers, servicemen, and patriot guard riders, he was given a proper homecoming.

"Standing tall for those who stood for us," said a proud Bruce Holmes.

The burial will take place at Salt Lake Cemetery Monday at 10 a.m.