Early in the morning of December 7, 1941, ground troops at Scofield Barracks in Honolulu were waiting in the breakfast queue at the mess, and sailors aboard the USS Oklahoma were enjoying their Sabbath respite when an alarm sounded announcing an air attack of incredible force. .
Within minutes, Seaman Houston Temples of Varnado became the first Washington Ward son to give his life during World War II.
Nearly 81 years later, the US Navy notified the Temples family last month that Houston’s remains had been positively identified and would be flown to New Orleans on December 2, 2022.
With the assistance of Louisiana State Police and Navy personnel, the Poole Ritchie Funeral Home will at that time assume responsibility and lead a brief procession to Bogalusa where preparations are underway by the American Legion Post 24 for burial five days later on December 7, in the Veterans Plot at Ponemah Cemetery.
The officers and members of Post 24 are touched by the honor bestowed on us by the family of Seaman Temples when they asked us to lend our presence and resources to their last rites. We pledge to do so with all the dignity, gratitude and love we can summon, and we ask and know that we will have the support of our fellow citizens.
Plans for proper recognition of the opportunity are underway, and we will be engaging our school officials, who have always been cooperative, as we believe our young people should understand this opportunity and its relevance to their lives, and the responsibilities accompanying the torch of freedom that we must inevitably pass on to them.
Although the time zones obviously differ, the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 a.m. Honolulu time and lasted an hour and 15 minutes. It seems fitting that the time of interment generally falls within this time pattern and therefore the funeral service at Ponemah will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, December 7, 2022. Marking and identifying the occasion correctly, the route of interment and the cemetery, will involve substantial expense as well as many hours of menial and manual labour. We can provide most of the physical effort, but we must necessarily appeal to the community and other friends for financial assistance, including the business sector, civic clubs and individuals.
Poste 24 voluntarily provides services to the community and our region on a regular basis, but rarely asks for help. We need help in this case and will gratefully accept your contributions.
Those who were there and survived that distant day in December 1941 have mostly moved on. The very few who remain have lived a long time, and evidently their days will soon know their number.
Even those of us who were still young have now grown old in those eight decades, breathing in the clean air of freedom. The rites of Seaman Houston Temples will be a poignant reminder of the more than 2,000 other handsome young men who, like him, never had the chance to grow old.
Please join us as we prepare.