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‘Home at last’ – Shelley native will finally receive military burial Saturday after 80 years

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Fireman Carl M. Bradley and USS Oklahoma | Courtesy American Legion Post 56

SHELLEY — Fireman Carl M. Bradley was 19 years old when he was killed in action at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Tomorrow, on June 26, Bradley will finally be able to have a proper military burial at his family plot in Shelley, nearly 80 years after his death.

The community is encouraged to attend.

The remains will be taken from Nalder’s Funeral Home at around 10:40 a.m. and will be taken to Hillcrest Cemetery for funeral services that begin at 11 a.m. The residents of Shelley are encouraged to line the streets between the funeral home and the cemetery to show support for the family and Bradley’s sacrifice.

Back in 1939, Bradley enlisted in the US Navy and left his hometown of Shelley to board the USS Oklahoma, which was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii. He was on duty as a boiler technician when the attack occurred. During the battle, the Oklahoma rolled nearly upside down. The engine room, where Bradley was, caught on fire.

Two years later, in 1943, the Oklahoma was righted and salvaged, and the remains of Bradley and almost 400 others aboard the ship were recovered, but unidentifiable.

However, in February 2021, DNA technology was finally able to identify Bradley’s remains (along with 95% of the other remains found on the ship), and the Navy was able to return the remains to his sister Karen Little, the only surviving sibling out of Bradley’s 12 brothers and sisters. Karen was only 3-years-old when he passed.

Karen and the rest of the family are grateful for the opportunity to give their family member a proper military burial.

“It’s an honor to be involved in this activity, to be able to bring Carl home and put him to rest and to know that he’s finally going to be ‘home at last’ is what my mom says.” Kevin Landon, Karen’s son, told EastIdahoNews.com. “This brings closure to the family to know that he’s come home and he’s going to be buried in the family burial plot.”

During the burial service, six sailors from Boise will be present to fold the flag, and then a Navy captain will present the flag to the family. Normally, a burial flag is folded by only two people for veterans, four if the veteran is a dignitary or high ranking officer, and by six typically for presidents, senators, or very high ranking officers like three and four-star admirals and generals. But after 80 years, it was decided to perform a six-person fold for Bradley.

“To have an individual identified that was killed on Pearl Harbor, and brought home and put in the family plot, that’s a big deal for a small town,” American Legion Post 56 Commander Bob Skinner said. “It’s very, very important that the send-off for the military person is done by military people who have a great respect for the passing of a veteran.”

The flag itself is special because it is an American-made 48-star flag, which was the official flag of the United States when Bradley was killed.

During the services, Landon will be conducting and dedicating the grave, and then Navy officers will perform the military rights. Representatives from the Navy, the American Legion, the Freedom Riders and the Veterans of Foreign War will be present.

“It’s important for our country to remember their veterans,” Skinner added. “The price of freedom is not free. And in this case, the price of freedom was this young man’s life. It gives people more appreciation for the veterans who give their lives to protect our way of life in our country.”

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