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Remains of Missouri Navy sailor who died at Pearl Harbor returned home after 81 years

Sophia Belshe, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

According to his obit, Newton joined the U.S. Navy in May of 1940 for a six-year enlistment after previously joining the Civilian Conservation Corps in Leavenworth and working for the Works Progress Administration in San Francisco.

During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Newton’s ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to capsize. Newton and 428 of his fellow crewmen died — few survived. Newton was 29 years old when he died.

The American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains from the USS Oklahoma in 1947, but were only able to identify 35 of the men at the time, according to the DPAA.

The unidentified remains were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. They stayed there for 68 years before the DPAA exhumed the unknown remains for testing in 2015.

For his service, Newton received the American Defense Service Medal, a Purple Heart and the Gold Star pin, among other honors.


Navy sailors Julie Mota Herrera and Elizabeth Gronau-Young, both second class petty officers, said they were honored to take part in the ceremony on Tuesday.

“You could be in the Navy all your life and this is definitely the most honorable thing,” Gronau-Young said. “Especially in our day and age where we don’t really see war time, this is something we get to do, to honor who we’ve lost.”

A service for Newton will be held at United Methodist Church in Mound City at 10 a.m. on May 28, followed by a military ceremony at Mount Hope Cemetery. Pettijohn & Crawford Funeral Home will be open for the community to pay their respects from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 26 and 27.

The family requests memorial donations to the Mound City United Methodist Church, Mound City American Legion cemetery fund, or the Mound City Kiwanis Club. Please forward all donations to Pettijohn & Crawford Family Funeral Service, P.O. Box 174, Mound City, MO 64470.

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