Remains of Mercer County World War II Sailor killed in action laid to rest in Princeton

PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – Bernard Wimmer was killed in action during World War II. Now, nearly 80 years after his death, Wimmer is finally at rest in southern West Virginia.

“It’s wonderful, it’s fantastic. This day is a blessing to our family because when we were at the punchbowl where his remains were in 2010, we really didn’t think this was going to come true,” says Wimmer’s nephew, Terry Snyder.

The Wimmer family received word their son, Fire Controlman 1st Class Bernard Ramon Wimmer was missing, on Christmas Eve 1941. He was a sailor aboard the U.S.S Oklahoma when Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The Battleship was torpedoed, then capsized, killing 429 sailors and Marines.

Many of those lost aboard the USS Oklahoma couldn’t be identified. There was no such thing as Forensic science. An unidentified Wimmer was buried with his shipmates, in a mass grave at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Wimmer and other sailor’s remains were disinterred in 2015 and with the help of DNA the Navy was able to being identifying some of the ‘Unknowns’. His family learned in October of 2020 that Wimmer’s remains had been identified.

“The Pearl Harbor Survivors Association is what kind of drove it, Snyder said. And when we heard that they were going to try to identify everyone through DNA, we were ecstatic about it.”

Wimmer was awarded the Purple Heart, the WWII Victory Medal, and the American Defense Medal for his outstanding service during such a wartime attack.

Brian Krabbe, adjutant for the American Legion Riley Vest Post 9 from Bluefield says,”It’s a relief to his family, his parents did not live to see this day. But as we were escorting the body, it said ‘Welcome to West Virginia,’ and it was a really good moment to feel his remains coming back here to be buried in his home state, in his hometown.”

Funeral services for Bernard Wimmer were held Saturday. The procession led by the Ghost and the American Legion Riders. Wimmer was buried at the McClaugherty Family Cemetery on Black Oak in Princeton with full military graveside rites provided by the U.S. National Guard.

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