These twins died on the USS Oklahoma — 78 years later they're home

Elizabeth Howe
June 28, 2019 - 9:48 am

Photo courtesy of DPAA

Twins Leo and Rudolph Blitz were both on the USS Oklahoma when it was struck by torpedoes on December 7, 1941. Now, 78 years later, the twins will be buried in their hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska.

The twins will be buried in back-to-back ceremonies on Saturday, August 10, at Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in two caskets, with two 21-gun salutes, two invocations, and two flags presented to their surviving sister, 93-year-old Betty Pitsch. 

The attack at Pearl Harbor capsized the ship and killed 429 sailors. By 1947, only 35 sets of remains from the attack had been identified. Two years later, a military board deemed the remains non-recoverable — including those of Navy Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Leo Blitz and Navy Fireman 1st Class Rudolph Blitz.

The remains of the unidentified were buried in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

It wasn’t until 2015 that the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknown remains from the Punchbowl for analysis. Since then, the agency has been working to identify all of those remains.

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