It was a long-overdue tribute for a World War II veteran killed in combat, after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Navy Seaman First Class Robert “Bobby” Monroe Temple was aboard USS Oklahoma when it was hit with nine torpedoes. The ship capsized and sank within 20 minutes. Temple was among 429 crewmen who died in the attack. Two years after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the ship was raised and up-righted. The remains of 34 crewmen were identified. None of them was Bobby Temple. The rest were placed in a mass grave at Pearl Harbor marked “Unknowns”.
But, in 2015, the Navy started to use DNA technology to identify the unknown crewman buried in the mass grave. This time, Bobby Temple was identified. Finally, after 75 years, the family of Temple found some closure.
“You wouldn't think this means so much to me because I never met him,” said Dave Temple, the nephew of Seaman Bobby Temple. “It was a closing to a story that I knew about that did something for me nothing else could have. It doesn’t seem like it would have that big of an effect on a nephew but it really did.”
The family of Bobby Temple allowed the public to visit his remains in O’Fallon, Illinois, at Wolferbergers Funeral Home on Sunday afternoon, after hosting a public funeral service the day before. There will be another opportunity to visit Temple’s remains on Monday afternoon from 1 to 4.
Military veteran James Garrett didn’t know Temple. Yet, he still wanted to pay his respects to a man who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“I always like to honor another vet,” Garret said. “I don’t think we do that enough.”
Eugene Meurer has known the Temple family for close to 40 years.
“It gives them a distinct closure with the event that happened and the loss of life,” Meurer said. “it’s kind of like finding a lost treasure.”
Dave Temple said he wants to thank military veterans, friends and members of the community who have been supportive and showed interest in his uncle.
“He was a hero to us,” Dave Temple said.