A Missouri man who died Dec. 7, 1941, in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was finally laid to rest last month, with the Parkville community coming together to launch his funeral procession.
Seaman second class Harold Lloyd Head, only 20 at the time of his death, was one of 429 sailors and Marines who lost their lives on the USS Oklahoma on that winter morning, forcing the United States into active participation in World War II. The USS Oklahoma was moored outboard of the USS Maryland in Battleship Row at Ford Island and suffered multiple torpedo hits, causing it to capsize.
In total, 2,335 American soldiers died and 1,143 were wounded in the surprise attack. Of the casualties on the USS Oklahoma, only 35 were identified, with the unidentified remains buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific as “Unknowns.”
It took decades before these unknowns would become known again, with Head’s remains recently sent to Meyers Funeral Chapel in Parkville, in accordance with the wishes of his remaining family members, who reside in the area.
“I never met you, but to this day I have your service portrait in my hutch as a reminder of family love, your character and bravery,” wrote niece Connie Lamanske in memorial to Head. “There are no adequate words to express the gratitude and pride held in my heart for you and your fellow soldiers. It will be an honor itself to gather with the rest of our family to bring you home and honor you.”
Head was indeed brought home, laid to rest in Laclede, Mo., on what would have been his 97th birthday, Wednesday, Oct. 10. After a service at Meyers, the Parkville American Legion, Parkville Police Department, Missouri State Highway Patrol and Missouri Patriot Guard participated in a funeral procession through downtown Parkville.
On the chilly October morning, Parkville residents turned out, standing on the street corners and waving American flags distributed by the Legion as the hearse rolled by. Park University also participated in the memorial as the procession passed by the campus eastbound toward Riverside.
Parkville Chief of Police Kevin Chrisman spoke of the planning at the Tuesday, Oct. 2, board of aldermen meeting. He said the Riverside Police Department would pick up escort duties at the city line, with Missouri State Highway Patrol providing escort from Riverside all the way to Laclede, which is located east of Chillicothe, Mo., on Highway 36.
“We’ve been contacting all the jurisdictions between here and there,” he said, adding that some planned to meet the procession with flags draped over highway overpasses and memorials of their own.
Born in Browning, Mo., to Noel Price Head and Goldia (Myers) Head, Harold Head graduated from Laclede High School in 1940 and joined the United States Navy that same year. His parents and three sisters are also deceased.
Survivors include nephews, nieces and extended family members.
In Laclede, his funeral included full military honors conducted by the U.S. Navy.
Head’s long journey back home started in 2003, when a single casket associated with the USS Oklahoma was disinterred from the National Memorial Cemetery.
Permission to exhume the remainder of the graves was granted on April 14, 2015. From June 2015 through November 2015, United States Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency personnel, in cooperation with cemetery officials, exhumed all remaining caskets and transferred them to DPAA laboratories located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
On Sept. 26, 2017, the DPAA confirmed through DNA testing that Head’s remains had been identified.
Family members, friends of the family and others are encouraged to leave comments and words of comfort on Head’s obituary page at meyersfuneralchapel.com.