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Flags to fly at half-staff Saturday for three Wisconsin brothers killed in Pearl Harbor attack

The Barber brothers will be laid to rest on Saturday
Malcom, Randolph and Leroy Barber all died when their Navy ship, the USS Oklahoma, sank during...
Malcom, Randolph and Leroy Barber all died when their Navy ship, the USS Oklahoma, sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor.(WBAY)
Published: Sep. 9, 2021 at 11:45 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Across the United States, flags will fly at half-staff Saturday to mark 20 years since the September 11 attacks and mourn the nearly 3,000 people who died that day. While in Wisconsin, those lowered flags will also honor three brothers who lost their lives sixty years earlier in another devastating day for the country, the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The Barber brothers were all serving on the U.S.S. Oklahoma on Dec. 7, 1941, during the Japanese attack that marked America’s entrance into WWII.

“The story of the Barber brothers and their family is a tragedy that has been a source of pain for the New London community, our state, and our country now for the better part of a century,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement announced his order for flags to be lowered.

“I am grateful for the work of many now nearly 80 years later who helped bring these brothers home,” he added.

In all, the Navy reported 429 crewmen were killed when the battleship was struck by multiple torpedoes and sank.

For nearly three years, Navy personnel worked to recover the bodies of the people who died that day and they were interred in the Halawa and Nu-uanu Cemetaries. In October 1949, the Barber brothers and hundreds of other sailors were classified as non-recoverable.

However, in 2015, the DPAA exhumed the USS Oklahoma crew to try again to identify them. The Barber brothers’ identities were confirmed in June 2020, the agency reported. Their names are recorded at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, also known as the Punchbowl, along with others who went missing in WWII. A rosette will now be placed next to them to note they have been accounted for.

Earlier this month, the Barber brothers’ bodies returned to New London and they are set to be laid to rest with full military honors this Saturday. To coincide with their burials, Gov. Tony Evers ordered flags to be lowered to half-staff to honor them.

When announcing the order, the Evers Administration noted its timing. While an order for flags to fly at half-staff for Sept. 11 will be issued, the Governor’s Office stated Evers “felt it was especially important to specifically honor the Barber brothers and their return.”

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