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Remains of Boaz Navy Fireman killed at Pearl Harbor laid to rest

U.S. Navy Fireman 2nd Class Ralph C. Battles, of Boaz.
U.S. Navy Fireman 2nd Class Ralph C. Battles, of Boaz.(waff)
Published: Aug. 29, 2021 at 9:44 AM CDT
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BOAZ, Ala. (WAFF) - A World War II hero was laid to rest on Saturday in Boaz almost 80 years after getting killed.

Dozens of family members and community members paid their respects to Ralph C. Battles at Hillcrest Cemetery.

“The military has always told us, we leave no man behind. The Navy has definitely proven that,” said Ralph Shell.

Shell is the nephew of U.S Navy Fireman 2nd Class Ralph C. Battles. Battles is from Boaz and was killed on the U.S.S. Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

He was one of 429 crew members who died and was only 25 years old. After the attack, 388 sailors were trapped inside the ship and their remains were taken to a nearby cemetery in Hawaii.

After decades of searching, Battle’s family was unsuccessful in finding his remains until this year, after DNA testing.

“I was notified on April 27 that his remains had been identified and would be returned to us,” said Shell.

Shell said that day was an exciting day for him and his family. He said since then, 340 sailors have now been identified and laid to rest.

Airforce veteran Harold Chitwood attended Battle’s burial service. Chitwood said it was an honor for him to pay his respects and see others in the community do the same.

“I think that’s very important, and it makes a big impression on the community that the military does that,” said Chitwood.

As for Shell, he said his family is grateful to finally have closure.

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