‘Uncle Wilbur is finally home’: Kansas sailor killed in Pearl Harbor finally laid to rest

Local

EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) – The sound of Taps playing is something the family of Navy Seaman 2nd Class Wilbur Clayton Barrett has waited 78 years to hear.

“I’m very honored. I just had no idea that it would be like this,” said Rick Siegrist, Barrett’s great nephew.

“He was my mother’s favorite uncle,” said Nancy Binter, Barrett’s great niece. “She cried every time she saw a report about Pearl Harbor.”

Barrett’s family, dignitaries, and the community gathered in El Dorado Saturday morning at Sunset Lawns cemetery to bury his remains with full military graveside honors after he gave the ultimate sacrifice on December 7,1941. The Navy identified his remains last year thanks to DNA testing.

“I’m just so thankful to the Navy that they followed through on this and gave us this day,” said Binter.

“America will always remember and we remember Wilbur and Godspeed to Wilbur,” said Captain James Mehail, U.S. Navy.

Barrett’s family took turns reading letters he wrote describing his life on the USS Oklahoma.

“In those letters, we find he had leave in San Francisco, and he fell in love, and he was going to go up to Seattle where she was,” said Binter.

“So you’re reading these letters and life’s going along he had a girlfriend that he met on shore leave, they had a good time, and then seven days later gone,” said Siegrist.

A memorial tombstone to Barrtett sits in the cemetery placed years ago as a tribute the family at the time thought would be the only hope of having him home. Now, the family finally has closure.

“Uncle Wilbur is finally home,” said Binter.

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