O'Fallon Progress

Community to honor Pearl Harbor vet who had been MIA since 1941

Robert Monroe Temple
Robert Monroe Temple

A public funeral service, to include presentation of Naval Military Honors, for U.S. Navy Seaman First Class Robert M. “Bobby” Temple will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, June 17 at Faith Family Church, 704 North Green Mount Road in Shiloh, with Temple’s nephew, Pastor John Temple, officiating.

Temple’s remains will lie in state for a public visitation from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 18 and Monday, June 19 at Wolfersberger Funeral Home, 102 W. Washington St. in O’Fallon. Following, he will be returned to Hawaii for committal to his final resting place at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

“I encourage all O’Fallon residents to help the community pay respect to U.S. Navy Seaman First Class Robert Temple,” said Mayor Herb Roach.

The public is invited to attend both, the funeral service and the public visitation. World War II Veterans attending will have special seating reserved. All World War II veterans planning to attend are asked to RSVP to the Wolfersberger Funeral Home at 618-632-3681.

U.S. Navy Seaman First Class Robert M. “Bobby” Temple, 19, of Wathena, Kansas, died Dec. 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, a casualty of the World War II bombing of the USS Oklahoma. Within 10 minutes of the start of the attack, the USS Oklahoma was hit with nine torpedoes. It capsized and sank within 20 minutes. Despite valiant rescue efforts, the bodies of 429 crewmen were entombed within the ship.

In 1943, through major engineering efforts, the USS Oklahoma was raised and up-righted. All the remains of the crew were recovered from the ship but only 34 bodies were identified through dental records. The rest were placed in a mass grave at Pearl Harbor marked “Unknown.” In 2015, the U.S. Navy initiated plans to use DNA technology to identify the “Unknowns.” With the use of modern DNA testing and efforts of the U.S. Navy, the remains of Robert Temple have been positively identified. Temple’s story was featured in the May 25 edition of the Progress.

Volunteers who are willing to assist with posting flags along the procession route are asked to meet at 2 p.m. Friday, June 16 at O’Fallon Township High School’s Weber Lot East, near 600 Weber Road. Volunteers with pickup trucks are needed.

The public may also pay their respects along the route of the funeral procession, which will depart Wolfersberger Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 17 as it travels south on Lincoln Avenue, through Shiloh via Main Street and Lebanon Avenue to Faith Family Church. Parking along the route will be available at St. Claire Catholic Church, Shiloh United Methodist Church, and Corpus Christi Catholic Church.

For more information, Kim Sabella, funeral director, Wolfersberger Funeral Home at kim@wfh-ofallon.com or 618-632-3681.