- September 12, 2021
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NEW LONDON, Wis. (WBAY) – Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has ordered flags to fly at half-staff in honor of New London’s Barber brothers.
United States and Wisconsin flags will be lowered on Saturday, Sept. 11. That’s when the brothers will be laid to rest with full military honors at Most Precious Blood Cemetery in New London. The ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m.
The brothers were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor.
“The story of the Barber brothers and their family is a tragedy that has been a source of pain for the New London community, our state, and our country now for the better part of a century,” said Gov. Evers. “I am grateful for the work of many now nearly 80 years later who helped bring these brothers home.”
Action 2 News’ Jeff Alexander visited New London to learn more about Navy Fireman 1st Class Malcom J. Barber, Fireman 1st Class Leroy K. Barber, and Navy Fireman 2nd Class Randolph H. Barber. They were aboard the USS Oklahoma on that day that will live in infamy, Dec. 7, 1941.
In the days and weeks following the attack at Pearl Harbor, bodies of sailors aboard the Oklahoma were recovered and buried, unidentified, in a cemetery overlooking Honolulu known as the Punch Bowl.
“About 10 years ago, the government began trying to identify the remains through DNA and since have identified I think pretty much all the crew members,” said Kent Rusch, owner of Cline & Hanson Funeral Home in New London.
The Barber brothers remains were recently returned home to New London.
Their story had a big impact on Navy policy.
“Shortly before December 7, their father wrote a letter to the U.S. Navy saying, ‘hey, I really don’t like the idea of my three sons being on the same ship’ and asked to have them put on different ships,” explains Rusch. “After that, they [the Navy] never would allow brothers to go on the same ship anymore.”
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