Emotional goodbye for Pearl Harbor hero after years in unmarked grave

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- After years in an unmarked grave, a Pearl Harbor sailor was laid to rest beside his parents on Saturday.

Navy Ensign John Charles England was buried with full military honors at Evergreen Cemetery. It was a day England’s granddaughter Bethany Glenn spent most of her life believing would never come.

“After 75 years, it finally happened,” Glenn said.

On Dec. 7, 1941, England died aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. England had rescued two of his fellow sailors and was going to help a third when he died. He became part of the unknown sailors who perished that day.

“My great-grandparents, they were devastated when they lost him and my mom was 1 month old and she never met her father,” Glenn said. “So today to be able to put my mother’s ashes along with the father she never met was unbelievable. It really was."

Years ago, Glenn learned her grandfather’s remains were in an unmarked grave in Hawaii. From that moment on, she knew there was now a way to give her family the closure they never got.

“It affects generations when you don’t get a body back, when you don’t get a body to bury. It affected my great-grandparents’ mourning process. They didn’t have anything,” Glenn said.

She felt her grandfather’s final resting place should be in the place where his parents would have wanted, beside them. She described Saturday’s service as unbelievable.

“This has just been a great experience, and I’m so grateful to the Navy that they were able to do all of this,” Glenn said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered flags be lowered to half-staff statewide on all public buildings from sunrise until sunset on Saturday in honor of England.

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