COLDWATER, Ohio (AP) — The remains of an Ohio serviceman who died nearly 80 years ago during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were brought home and laid to rest next to those of his parents and brother on Memorial Day.
Veterans and families lined the route to the cemetery on Monday to remember Robert Bailey, a 21-year-old shipfitter in the Navy who was among the 429 killed on the USS Oklahoma.
He was on the battleship on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, after trading places with an officer so he could be on board when his older brother arrived, said his niece, Marilyn Giere, of Celina.
Willis Bailey survived the attack that left 2,403 Americans dead and launched the United States into World War II, but he was always burdened by the guilt of surviving and knowing his brother was on the ship to be with him, Giere told the Daily Standard of Celina.
Robert Bailey had been listed as missing until this past January. His remains were identified through DNA testing as part of a federal Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency effort to identify those who were recovered from the USS Oklahoma.
Bailey, who grew up in Coldwater, was the first Mercer County resident to die in World War II, said Charlie Koesters, senior vice commander of the Coldwater Veterans of Foreign War Post.