Pearl Harbor veteran buried outside Ada

By  | 

LULA, Okla. (KXII) - It was a somber celebration as family members and veterans honored the life of Private Vernon Paul Keaton.

Keaton was just 18 when he was killed on the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

"I love him, but I'm glad he's home," Sue Lewis said.

Sue Lewis is Keaton's niece.

She was only 2 years old when her uncle was killed.

Sue is his closest living relative and says she remembers stories of Keaton.

"My grandmother raised me and she just said, he's coming home," Lewis said.

In 2015 the U.S. Department of Defense started exhuming the bodies of more than 400 marines and sailors who died that day.

"They started getting DNA samples from families and eventually linking the DNA from the families to the service members that were aboard the boat," Gunnery Sergeant Nicholas Brundige said.

Of the seven marines, Keaton was the first to be identified.

An air force sergeant flew to Hawaii to have Keaton's remains escorted to Oklahoma Tuesday night, where sue was waiting to bring him home.

"It was a good experience,"Lewis said.

"I was really surprised, I mean I did not know I had a great great uncle that was at Pearl Harbor, and I mean it was a shock to me at first," Taylor Wainscott said.

Keaton was from Texas, but his mother was grew up Stonewall.

Family members say they're happy he'll be buried with her at the Lula Cemetery just outside of Ada.

"We can go out there and see his grave, I mean it's real close to us so we'll be able to go visit," Great great niece Brandy Wainscott said.

"It's a story that I will definitely pass on," She said.