Remains identified and brought home: Twin Pearl Harbor sailors died aboard the USS Oklahoma
In a family of 15 children, a pair of twins embarked on their last journey together.
Leo and Rudy Blitz died serving their country on the USS Oklahoma during the battle of Pearl Harbor...
After the war, the US salvaged and preserved as many sailor's remains they could find in hopes to reconnect the bodies to their families.
"We certainly want to identify as many fallen as we can, those that end up sacrificing their lives in defense of this country," Casualty Assistance Call Officer CDR Paul Dee said.
"My grandparents were Henry and Marie Blitz, Leroy and Rudy were my uncles."
That is Sandra Rebensdorf–Cox, she along with the rest of the Rebensdorf and blitz family came together in the first family reunion within 5 years to commemorate and celebrate the return of their long lost boys.
The parents and siblings never forgot Leo and Rudy Blitz.
"All of my years that they had a household, their picture was in the living room, as well as in my parent's house and several of my aunts and uncle's houses," Rebensdorf–Cox said.
The twins died on this very eventful attack, and died heroically.
"They were both on ship, Rudy was on top and Leo was down as a fireman, he was probably down in the boiler room I would assume, and they got the order to abandon ship. He did not go, he said to the friend that was with him, that relayed the story to us later, that he was not going without his brother," Rebensdorf–Cox said.
By using DNA analysis and other historical service and dental records, many agencies were able to begin correctly pairing the found remains to the living family members– one younger sister left, a Betty Pitsch.
Everybody is drawn to her to provide her that support because she was the younger sister who I'm sure looked up to these two boys and idolized them.
It was Betty's DNA which helped bring the boys home, and she was delighted to attend.
"They were kind of pranksters, they tricked one another. Because they were so identical, they played tricks on people," Rebensdorf–Cox said.
The funeral, a very special one, and one for the books in Lincoln.
"This is a very unique ceremony in the sense that we don't always lay two sailors to rest at the same time," CDR Dee said.
With this technology, any homecoming story can be as miraculous as this one.
"It's sort of a release, a sense of closure, joy, happiness to have finally been able to bring them home," CDR Dee said.
These two boys were of the 36 bodies aboard the USS Oklahoma that were identified, but the remaining 429 sailors and marines have yet to be discovered.