Titonka Welcomes Home Pearl Harbor Hero 75 Years Later

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TITONKA, Iowa  --  A funeral service was held on Friday for William “Willie” Kennedy, who was a 24-year-old Fireman First Class aboard the Battleship Oklahoma when it was hit and capsized during the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Kennedy’s remains were never identified, until the Navy began using DNA technology. A match was then found in Kennedy’s relatives.

The United Methodist Church was packed with some of Kennedy’s relatives, students, and community members for Friday's service.

“We thank God for the life and service of William Kennedy. May this service bring closure and comfort to all who mourn,” said Reverend Todd Hartsock of the Titonka United Methodist Church. ”I heard that many years ago, Ma Kennedy said that William would be coming home for Mother's Day. She was right!”

“I think it gives closure to the fact that he was missing in action from the attack at Pearl Harbor, and now he’s brought home,” said Sharon Miller, one of Kennedy's nieces who spoke for the family. “I think a lot of them knew that he was a hero, it just wasn’t talked about all the time because it’s been 75 years since it happened.”

Sharon Miller read a poem that was originally written by Kennedy’s mother at a memorial service in February of 1942.

Kennedy was buried at the Buffalo Grove Cemetery, just south of Titonka.