Kansas sailor comes home 78 years after being killed in Pearl Harbor

Local News

The remains of Hadley Irvin Heavin were returned to his hometown 78 years after he was killed in Pearl Harbor.

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A Topeka man used his DNA to identify his brother who remained an unknown soldier killed at Pearl Harbor for seven decades.

After 78 years, Hadley Irvin Heavin’s remains were identified in September 2019 after his two remaining brothers, Charles “Frog” Heavin and Rex Heavin, provided DNA samples to identify their brother.

At his time of death in 1941, Hadley’s survivors included his parents, Charles and Mary Ann Heavin, five brothers, Clarence Heavin, Herbie Heavin, Ernest Heavin, Charles “Frog” Heavin and Rex Heavin, and one sister, Fern Heavin.

At the time of this memorial service, two brothers, Charles and wife Shirley, and Rex and wife Irene still survive, along with many loving nieces and nephews and extended family, according to Hadley’s family.

Hadley was the second of seven children. He spent his childhood in Baxter Springs, growing up with five brothers and one sister, and received an education through the local school district through 8th grade. He left school to help take care of his siblings during the Great Depression.

Hadley enlisted at age 20 in the US Navy, in June 1938. He was a Fireman 1st Class doing his basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Great Lakes, IL.

According to his obituary on December 7, 1941, Hadley was onboard his ship, the USS West Virginia, and was on duty when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. His ship sustained multiple torpedo hits and sank to the harbor floor. When the ship was finally salvaged, Navy personnel recovered the remains of at least 66 additional crewmen, including Hadley.

Those remains were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.

Hadley was awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrificial service to his country. 

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