American Legion to help lay Pearl Harbor victim to rest

Published 9:54 am Friday, August 19, 2022

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On the early morning of Dec. 7, 1941, ground troops at Scofield Barracks in Honolulu, Hawaii, were waiting in the breakfast line at the mess hall, and seamen aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma were enjoying their Sabbath respite when an alarm sounded, announcing an air attack of unbelievable force. In the minutes that followed, Seaman Houston Temples of Varnado became the first of Washington Parish’s sons to give his life in what history now records as the Second World War.

Spokesmen for Magic City Post 24 of the American Legion have provided the following comments:

“Nearly 81 years later, in July of 2022, the U.S. Navy gave notice to the Temples family that Houston’s remains had been unquestionably identified and would be transported by air to New Orleans on Dec. 2, 2022.

“With the assistance of the Louisiana State Police and naval personnel, Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home will at that time assume responsibility and lead a brief procession to Bogalusa, where preparations are being made by Post 24 for interment five days later on Dec. 7, 2022, in the veterans’ plot at Ponemah Cemetery.

“The officers and members of Post No. 24 are humbled by the honor bestowed on us by Seaman Temples’ family when they asked us to lend our presence and resources to his final rites. We pledge ourselves to do this with all the dignity and gratitude and love we can convoke, and we ask, and know, that we will have the support of our fellow citizens.

“Plans for proper recognition of the occasion are underway, and we will be calling upon our school officials, who have always been cooperative, for we believe that our youth should be understanding of this occasion and of its relevance in their lives, and of the responsibilities accompanying the torch of freedom which we inevitably must hand on to them.

“While time zones obviously differ, the attack on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 a.m. Honolulu time and lasted one hour and 15 minutes. It seems appropriate that the time of interment corresponds generally with that hourly pattern, and accordingly the burial service at Ponemah will commence at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. Properly marking and identifying the occasion, the interment route and the cemetery, will involve substantial expenses as well as many hours of menial and manual work. We can supply most of the physical exertions, but of necessity must call on the community and other friends for financial help, including the business sector, civic clubs and individuals.

“Post 24 willingly provides services to the community and our area on a regular basis, but seldom asks for help. We need assistance in this instance and will gratefully accept your contributions.

“Those who were there and survived that long ago day in December have mostly moved on. The very few who remain have lived long lives, and obviously their days shall soon know their number. Even those of us who then were in our early youth have now grown old during these eight decades, while breathing the pure air of freedom. The rites of Seaman Houston Temples will stand as a poignant reminder of the more than 2,000 other fine young men who, like him, never had the chance to grow old.

“Please join us as we prepare.”

More information about this event will be released in the future, as plans develop.

John N. Gallaspy offered his services as a spokesperson for the American Legion Magic City Post 24, by contributing this article.