Navy sailor killed at Pearl Harbor buried over 80 years later in Independence’s hometown

An honor guard of sailors from Naval Station Great Lakes carry the casket Saturday during a service for Seaman Leading Seaman David Franklin Tidball in Independence. Tidball died on November 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor and was returned to Independence for burial after advances in technology allowed identification of his remains in March 2021. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

INDEPENDENCE – More than 80 years after Sailor David F. Tidball died aboard the USS Oklahoma when it sank in the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, he was buried on Saturday during military service in his hometown of Independence.

Few of the deceased from the USS Oklahoma could be identified after the war, but in 2015 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the unidentified bodies and began the process of identification through anthropological analysis, mitochondrial DNA, and DNA of the Y chromosome.

Tidball’s body was identified in 2021.

Sailor David Tidball, 20, of Independence, was killed on December 7, 1941 during the attack on Pearl Harbor. (photo sent)

He graduated from Independence High School in 1938 and graduated from Independence Community College in the spring of 1940. That summer he enlisted in the Navy.

Tidball, who died aged 20, was in the navy about a year before the Japanese torpedoes hit the ship. He was one of 429 crew members from the USS Oklahoma who died in the attack.

Tidball’s remains arrived at Mount Hope Cemetery on Saturday behind a motorcade of 58 motorcyclists from veteran and biker groups in northeast Iowa.

Flags lined the road leading to the cemetery and community members surrounded the site where Tidball would be buried. Family members – mostly nieces and nephews – sat on a few chairs near the casket during the funeral service.

A eulogy was delivered by Navy Captain Mark Dieter, who traveled from Wisconsin for the funeral but is from Vinton. Seaman Tidball was honored with a 21-gun salute, carried out by sea cadets from Naval Station Great Lakes.

“It’s not just a family day. It is also a day dedicated to our nation. This is our nation’s story,” Dieter said during his remarks. “The biggest mistake we can make as a nation is not being grateful.”

Tidball’s family was presented with the flag that adorned his casket by Navy Commander Shahama Brown. Brown said before the service that it is a sacred honor to attend veterans’ funerals. This is the second time she has attended a service for a sailor from the USS Oklahoma.

“You don’t know them, but they’re still your sibling, because you wear that uniform too,” Brown said.

Harry E. Nichols, a Navy storekeeper from Sioux City, was also identified as part of the accounting agency project and was buried Friday in Sioux City.

Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered statewide flags to fly at half mast Friday and Saturday to honor Nichols and Tidball.

Before his body was identified, Tidball had been honored in Independence as the first local serviceman to lose his life in World War II. American Legion Sheehan-Tidball Post 30 is named after Tidball and Captain EM Sheehan, the first serviceman to lose his life in World War I.

Members of the American Legion and other veterans organizations stood to attention throughout the service on Saturday.

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Naval Station Great Lakes cadets fire a three-volley salute Saturday during a service for Leading Seaman David Franklin Tidball at Independence. Tidball died on November 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Patriot Guard motorcyclists, American Legion horsemen and other groups ride in a funeral procession on Saturday during a service for Leading Seaman David Franklin Tidball in Independence. Tidball died on November 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Captain Mark Dieter delivers a eulogy Saturday during a service for Seaman First Class David Franklin Tidball at Independence. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Members of the American Legion chapters in Iowa look on during a service for Seaman Leading Seaman David Franklin Tidball in Independence on Saturday. Tidball died on November 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)

Naval Station Great Lakes cadets fire a three-volley salute Saturday during a service for Leading Seaman David Franklin Tidball at Independence. (Nick Rohlman/The Gazette)