Ardmore sailor killed at Pearl Harbor becomes first vet buried in new Ardmore cemetery
ARDMORE, Okla. (KXII) - On Saturday Seaman First Class Billy Turner became the first veteran buried in the new Oklahoma State Veterans Cemetery in Ardmore, and the journey to get him to his final resting place spans over 80 years.
Turner joined the navy when he was just 20 years old and was among the 429 soldiers on the USS Oklahoma killed at Pearl Harbor.
His body was not identified until last year when his nephew, Bill Crowell, provided the DNA necessary to do so and the decision was made to bury him in his home town.
“Its just been extremely fulfilling to see this project come to fruition,” said Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs executive director Sarah Lane. “And to have a historic first burial from world war two, from the attack on pearl harbor, from the USS Oklahoma, its just an absolute blessing.”
In attendance were community members, family friends, and several veterans groups as well as Turner’s nephew.
“This has been way above and beyond what I even expected,” said Crowell.
Prior to the funeral a special dedication was held where it was revealed that Turner wouldn’t just be the first veteran in the new cemetery.
“Seaman first class turner being the first casualty from carter county on a historic day in world war two before the united states had even entered world war two just seemed to all fit together so nicely that we wanted to name the cemetery in honor of him,” said Lane.
Which caught Crowell completely by surprise.
“I didn’t even know it until they revealed it this morning, they kept it from me,” said Crowell. “I didn’t know it... its very touching.”
Turner will soon be joined by more veterans as the cemetery completes construction.
It has the capacity to provide a resting place for veterans from all over the country for the next decade.
“As long as there has been an Oklahoma, Oklahomans have been committed to taking care of veterans,” said Lane. “And our brand new veterans cemetery is just the latest example of that.”
Copyright 2022 KXII. All rights reserved.