Coming home: After 80 years, family of Ky. sailor who died at Pearl Harbor finally getting closure

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 10:12 PM EDT
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SOMERSET, Ky. (WKYT) - It’s a homecoming nearly 80 years in the making.

Next weekend, a sailor from Somerset will finally be laid to rest after he was killed in the attacks on Pearl Harbor.

Floyd Helton was recently identified through DNA sampling the Navy is using to identify remains of sailors killed.

For Vicki Easley, looking through artifacts related to her uncle is like a personal history lesson.

Some are documents from almost 80 years ago when Helton was killed on the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“The first telegram that they got was December 20 that he was missing in action,” Easley said. “Then later they got another telegram that he was presumed killed.”

For eight decades, Floyd’s family never had any closure for the 18-year-old who was from Somerset.

“There’s copies of letters that his mother wrote, an aunt on his mother’s side, begging for information. One of them even wrote President Roosevelt,” Easley said.

No grave, no headstone. Easley once took her mother, Floyd’s sister, to the memorial in Oklahoma City. It was an emotional moment to see her brother’s name etched in stone.

“She was just beside herself. This is something that she had hoped for ever since they started talking about what they could possibly do with DNA,” Easley said.

It was a promise fulfilled to her father who died not knowing where his son was.

“He asked the three children, the three siblings, that if anything ever came that they could bring his body home, that they try to do that,” Easley said.

Next weekend, it’ll be a true homecoming as Floyd is laid to rest, right next to his dad, giving them all peace.

More than 300 sailors from the USS Oklahoma have been identified through DNA testing. That includes other sailors who were from Kentucky.

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