Burials Set for Sailors Killed in Pearl Harbor Attack

May 15, 2018

View of the capsized U.S. Navy battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37) at Pearl Harbor. USS Maryland (BB-46) is visible behind the Oklahoma. December 7, 1941.
Credit Department of the Navy. Fourteenth Naval District.

  BATAVIA, Ill. - The families of two sailors with Illinois ties who were killed during the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are preparing for their burials.

Military officials say DNA testing helped identify remains of the sailors who were among 429 killed when the USS Oklahoma sank.

The military says 20-year-old Gunner's Mate 2nd Class William Hellstern of Peoria, Illinois, will be buried Friday in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. A burial ceremony for Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Howard Backman is planned for Memorial Day in the Chicago-area city of Batavia.

Carolyn Sellers says relatives from seven states are expected as her uncle is buried near his parents. Backman was born in Wilton, North Dakota, to a farming family who moved to Aurora, Illinois, shortly after his Navy enlistment.