STURGIS, S.D. (KELO) — U. S. Navy Veteran Leaman R. Dill died at Pearl Harbor during World War II, 80 years ago. Today, the South Dakota native is back in his home state.
In 1941, 25-year-old Leaman Dill was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. The ship was attacked on December 7th, killing 429 soldiers including Dill.
“Recently in the last 5, 6 years, they were able to identify a lot of these remains and get them to their final resting spot,” Dean Moncur, Black Hills Funeral Home, said.
Through DNA testing, Leaman Dill’s remains were identified in January of 2021. And today, he was brought home.
“We wish our father could have seen it, been present for it. It’s just been an incredible journey that we never thought we would see,” Marilynn Axt, Dill’s niece, said.
Dill’s niece, Marilynn Axt from Wyoming, and Dill’s nephew David Dill from Nebraska were thankful to attend today’s ceremony at the Black Hills National Cemetery.
“Leaman was born in Bancroft, South Dakota, and lived in Huron. But he enlisted in the Navy just down here in Deadwood when he was 22, was training as an electrician and now he’s back home here in South Dakota so that’s pretty cool,” Dill said.
This was a monumental day for Dill’s family and an unforgettable experience for the Black Hills National Cemetery and Funeral Home.
“Ma’am this is probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as a funeral director to serve a family under these circumstances, I consider it an honor. But we are just happy that he is finally home,” Moncur said.
Before today, Officer Leaman Dill was buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific with hundreds of other unidentified crewmen of the USS Oklahoma.