GUILFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The town of Guilford is far from the beaches of Hawaii, but the distance is getting a lot smaller thanks in part to Guilford’s Tom Gray.
Gray’s second cousin, Edwin Hopkins, served on board the U.S.S. Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Then 19-years old, Hopkins was killed that terrible day in 1941 and buried as an unknown soldier at a national cemetery in Hawaii. The family of Hopkins, however, was told he went missing. It was something Hopkins’s parents never accepted.
“They have his name actually on the tombstone with their tombstone up in Keene, New Hampshire, waiting for him to come back,” said Gray.
Seven decades later, Hopkins’s whereabouts were discovered by an organization made up of U.S.S. Oklahoma survivors. Tuesday, due to a change in military policy concerning when a burial site may be exhumed, he learned his cousin would finally be coming back home.
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“It’s kind of like when your child goes off and you think they’re lost and you’re angry with them, but then when you find them,” said Gray. “We were angry for a long time, but now its like it’s, ‘okay, we got him back.’”
Gray says he never knew his cousin, but hearing stories from family all his life he felt like he did.
“They wouldn’t let him go,” said Gray. “They would not let Eddy Hopkins’s memory go.”
Gray says it could still be a few years before his cousin is buried at his final resting place back in New England.
According to Senator Chris Murphy’s office, Hopkins is one of up to 388 sailors and Marines that will be exhumed.