TOPEKA (WIBW) -- Nearly eight decades after that fateful December day at Pearl Harbor, Hadley Heavin's family has waited to hear some word that their loved one's remains were not missing anymore, but that he had been positively identified.
Now Charlie Heavin and his son, Randy, are telling 13 News they've received word from the U.S. Navy that DNA Charlie gave the Navy in 2017 has helped link remains on the USS West Virginia, as those of Charlie's brother, Hadley Heavin.
Charlie says he was notified Tuesday night by a Navy Commander.
“And I said yes, he was a fireman First Class on the USS West Virginia,..yes, you’re the one then.. I wanted to tell you Hadley’s been identified.. You'll be receiving more calls from us about your plans for his burial with full military honors."
Charlie said he's been thinking about that phone call all day, and his son Randy, Hadley's nephew, said especially after nearly 80 years, the news was stunning.
"I was very surprised through DNA, and I want to thank everybody that had anything to do with that DNA, for all their hard work and trouble."
From the details they've heard so far, the Navy is waiting for the Heavin family to decide if they would like their loved one laid to rest in Hawaii with many others who died on Pearl Harbor Day, or for Hadley to be buried on their family cemetery land in Baxter Springs, a small town in the extreme Southeast corner of Kansas, where Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri actually meet in the same spot on the map.
Charlie and his younger brother, Rex say a minister encouraged them to have Hadley buried in Baxter Springs.
"Hadley was the first one killed from Baxter Springs, and the local VFW Post was named after Hadley," Charlie told us.
And Randy wants his uncle's Kansas burial to be a tribute to the much loved relative he never knew.
"We want Hadley to have everything that’s coming to him. He never got to have a family so I consider the whole United States his family.. he died for them..”
Fireman First Class Heavin was set to complete his military fulfillment in March of 1942, only three months after the disastrous attack at Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces.