Two Soldiers From Pearl Harbor

Two brothers from Indiana who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor were finally identified and laid to rest with gravestones after almost 80 years of being “unknown” soldiers.

Harold and William Trapp were buried with full military honors at Punchbowl Cemetery in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The brothers share a plot, one casket atop the other.

Born in Chicago but raised in La Porte, Indiana, the brothers did everything together. They joined the U.S. Navy in 1939.

“When they joined and enlisted, they enlisted on the same day ― together,” Carol Sowar, their niece, told Hawaii News Now. Sowar said her mother, Irene (the brothers’ sister), had been bothered for years that her brothers were not buried in a “dignified” manner.

The brothers served together on the USS Oklahoma, which Japanese fighter pilots torpedoed on Dec. 7, 1941 – the event that led the U.S. to enter World War II. The ship sank, and 429 crewmen died in the battle.

Since then, the brothers remained unidentified, along with the hundreds of other casualties from the attack.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency has worked for decades to identify the remains and bring closure to families of the deceased. In November 2020, the agency was able to identify the Trapp brothers – at the same time, again – thanks to dental and genetic evidence.

“When I got the call, I broke down and cried and cried and cried,” Sowar said.

Twelve family members were present at the ceremony, along with 75 uniformed service members, including around 55 sailors, Stars and Stripes reported.

Each brother received a rifle salute and a rendition of “Taps.” Sailors folded an American flag over each casket, one of which was presented to Sowar and the other given to her son, Matthew.

“We all know that on Dec. 7 we were attacked. The USS Oklahoma was attacked viciously, and it sank, ” chaplain Navy Cmdr. Randal Potter said during the service. “Four hundred twenty-nine crewmen died on that day — among them, these two brothers.”

Sowar called the service “beautiful” and expressed her gratitude that her uncles finally received the respect they deserved after so many years. 

“It was something that bothered my mother the whole time,” Sowar said. “This was very hard on my mother, and the fact that they were not buried the way that you’d want them to be buried, with dignity and a service, always bothered her.”

12 thoughts on “Brothers Who Died in Pearl Harbor Attack Finally Identified and Laid to Rest”
  1. WTF is wrong with our Govt. That poor family has suffered all these years for a very well deserved burial for these two brothers who served our country! I’m ashamed and embarrassed at our Govt. Why don’t the govt. cowards representatives serve to protect our country instead of trying to screw and lie to the people. Show some respect to the people! who pay your salaries!

  2. I, too, come from a Military family. Many of my family members served in ALL US Wars. Several were injured and POWs in WWII. God bless you and your family. May your Uncle’s rest in peace, now that they are reunited in death❤️❤️

  3. I’m sure you have always known they were in God’s Hands, but it is now better to visit them.
    My uncle still lies in the bottom of an ocean, since WWII. We have always missed him, but knew he was in peace with our Father in Heaven.

  4. Together in life and death, lives ended too soon. Amazingly touching how close these brothers were in everything, even now identified at the same time. We thank them for their service, and thankful the family finally has closure.

  5. i Believe, That The Military, NEED’s To DO a Better JOB, bringing OUR SOLDIERS HOME !
    YOU, Sent Them There ………. They Deserve This In Return, As Well As Their Families !!
    MANY Gave Their Life ………….. In Return, YOU Couldn’t Even Give Them Respect !!
    i’m SURE if it were YOUR loved one…. Thing’s would Have been different..

  6. Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and
    gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the
    shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

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