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Dignified arrival: WWII Sailor finally returns home

Men carry a coffin, while other men salute them as they walk by.

Aircrew from the 189th Airlift Wing crew members salute U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Henry Tipton as he’s carried to a hearse by 19th Airlift Wing Honor Guardsmen June 6, 2018, at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, Ark. Tipton served on the USS Oklahoma during the attacks on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Airmen load a coffin onto the back of a hearse.

19th Airlift Wing Honor Guard load U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Henry Tipton onto a hearse June 6, 2018, at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, Ark. Tipton was finally returned nearly 77 years after he left home to serve his country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Men salute plane.

19th Airlift Wing Honor Guardsmen salute U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class Henry Tipton June 6, 2018, at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, Ark. Tipton, who was serving on the USS Oklahoma, perished during the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1944. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

Men stand holding flags.

Members of the Patriot Guard honor the arrival of Seaman 1st Class Henry Tipton’s remains June 6, 2018, at Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, Ark. The Patriot Guard escorted Tipton on the final leg of his trip to the Wings of Honor Museum at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport for a memorial. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Rhett Isbell)

WALNUT GROVE, Ark. --

While the world remembered June 6 as D-Day – the longest day of World War II – the Tipton family will now remember this date as the day their Sailor finally came home.

The family waited nearly 77 years for Seaman 1st Class Henry "Glenn" Tipton to return from war. The 189th Airlift Wing Arkansas Air National Guard transported Tipton’s casket aboard a C-130H. The Little Rock Air Force Base Honor Guard then ceremonially carried the casket to the hearse as the Patriot Guard stood solemnly by and presented the American flag and the Department of the Navy flag.

The journey to locate Tipton’s remains has been a long one in the making.

“The family has always wanted the chance to bring him home,” said Kimberly Bragg Pulaski, second cousin to Tipton. “It’s been a long time coming and we are all so grateful for this day.”

On Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service. Tipton perished when the USS Oklahoma was bombed and sunk during a kamikaze attack on the naval fleet. Tipton, along with many other sailors, was classified as missing in action.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of the “unknowns” associated with the USS Oklahoma.

In February 2018, after careful testing, Tipton was identified among the 428 crewmembers who perished with him.

"As a remaining member of the family, on behalf of all of us, we vicariously now have the closure that was sought for 76 years," stated Ken Tipton, the youngest brother of the deceased Sailor, in an earlier interview.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson issued a proclamation recognizing June 8 as "Henry Glenn Tipton Memorial Day." While the U.S. Navy escorted Tipton’s remains to the Memphis International Airport, the 189th WG stepped in to fly his remains to the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport rather than be driven by hearse to the Wings of Honor Museum in Ravenden, Ark.

For the Tipton family, decades of wondering, waiting and wishing has finally ended. Seaman Tipton can now rest in peace at home on U.S. soil surrounded by those who loved and missed him. All who heard of his arrival had one unified thought in mind: welcome home Sailor, welcome home.