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Remains of Missouri Pearl Harbor veteran identified decades later

Posted: 12:51 PM, Oct 01, 2018
Updated: 2018-10-02 00:12:40Z

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — The family of a Missouri veteran who died during the Pearl Harbor attack will hold a special funeral for him next week after his remains were identified by government officials.

Harold Lloyd Head grew up in Laclede, Missouri, and joined the Navy in 1940.

After serving aboard the USS Oklahoma, Head tragically died in the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.

His remains were never identified after the tragedy and his personal story faded away over time.

“His mother and his father, whenever he died, she had a broken heart,” said family member Cindy Cairns. “It was just a lot of heartbreak and no one wanted to talk about it.”

Cairns told 41 Action News that she never met Head and details of his life were never discussed by fellow family members.

She only learned of her connection to Head after a recent surprise phone call.

“She said they’ve identified his remains from Pearl Harbor and they’re going to bring them back to Laclede,” Cairns said. 

Over 75 years later after Head’s death at Pearl Harbor, government officials identified his remains after examining the bodies of unidentified soldiers at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

One of Cindy’s nephews sent in a DNA sample, which led to a match to her family.

“I found out my dad was his first cousin and that I was his second cousin,” she said. “It made me more proud of my heritage knowing that we have a family member that served his county and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

After finding out about the family connection, Cindy has worked on organizing a special funeral service for Head.

While they wait for his remains to officially come back to Missouri, Cindy said she has reached out to distant relatives all across the country.

“We’re meeting and talking to people we didn’t even know that are related to us,” she said. “We’re going to be able to meet family members from California, Montana, Kansas City, and all around.”

The special funeral procession will be held on Oct. 10.

The ceremony will begin in Parkville at 10:30 a.m. before making a final stop at the Laclede Cemetery.

Federal records show more than 70,000 American soldiers currently remain unaccounted for from World War II.