Pottawattamie County

Bert Eugene McKeeman


War Dads Here Receive Award

Roy McKeeman, 511 Stutsman street, displays the War Dad’s achievement flag.

For outstanding achievement in organization and in local membership, members of Council Bluffs Chapter No. 2 the American War Dads have been awarded a ward dad flag with the national emblem engraved upon it.

Roy McKeeman, shown displaying the banner, is the local chapter’s first Gold Star Dad, by virtue of his son, Bert Eugene McKeeman’s death during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The emblem went to local dads for having rated second highest in membership of any chapter in the United States, highest in membership of Iowa chapters, and for having organized chapters at Sidney, Glenwood, Griswold, Carson, Oakland, Harlan and Neola.

Within the next two weeks, local War Dads will increase their record of organizing chapters to nine when chapters are presented at Logan and Onawa.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday, December 07, 1948, Page 21

Quiet Observance of Pearl Harbor Day
County Lost 289 in Last World Conflict

Remember Pearl Harbor, Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941?

Today – Sunday, Dec. 7, 1948 – Iowans observe quietly the sixth anniversary of the start of world war II, in which nearly 7,000 Iowans lost their lives. The number is still growing. Statistics kept by the war records division of the Iowa state historical department who 6,842 Iowans lost their lives from Pearl Harbor day, Dec. 7, 1941, to V-J day, Aug. 14, 1945.

Since congress has not yet declared the war closed, the war records division still is adding to the list of the dead. At the present the total is 8,267 for Iowa. Additions will continue to be made for those who die in service until congress acts.

The first Iowa fatality in the war occurred in the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The victim was Malachi J. Cashen, 34, Lamont, who was serving in the air corps when fatally wounded.

McKeeman First.

The first Council Bluffs fatality in the bombing of Pearl Harbor was listed as Fireman 1/c Bert Eugene McKeeman, member of the crew of the U. S. S. Oklahoma, a victim in the surprise attack. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy McKeeman, 511 Stutsman street.

The greatest blow to any one Council Bluffs family came to Mr. and Mrs. John F. Bostedt. Their three sons were reported dead. John, Joe and Glen Bostedt were taken prisoners when Bataan fell to the Japanese. They died in a Japanese prison camp. The three youths were serving with the U. S. army air force and had been permitted to serve together after insisting that they did not want to be separated.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday, December 07, 1948, Page 21

Quiet Observance of Pearl Harbor Day

Wednesday is the eighth anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941.

The beginning of World War II for the United States still brings a painful twinge of recollection to many people. None of the service clubs will observe the day here. The anniversary is expected to pass quietly.

Casualties were heavy among Pottawattamie county service men. Those who gave their lives totaled 289 men in various branches of service and one woman, a navy WAVE. The county’s share of wounded totaled more than 315 persons.

The first Council Bluffs fatality in the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor was Seaman First Class Bert Eugene McKeeman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy McKeeman.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, Friday, December 08, 1949, Page 1

Bert Eugene McKeeman was born July 23, 1916 to Roy Franklin and Mae Rose Kirkle McKeeman. He died Dec. 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma (BB-37) when it was sunk by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

He was memorialized by a cenotaph at the Courts of the Missing, Court 1, Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii and at the USS Oklahoma Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

On Nov. 13, 2018 the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced his remains have been accounted for and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Source: ancestry.com

Funeral Announcement for USS Oklahoma Sailor Killed During World War II (McKeeman, B.)

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, accounted for from World War II are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Navy Fireman 1st Class Bert E. McKeeman, 25, of Council Bluffs, Iowa, accounted for on Aug. 13, 2018, will be buried December 1st in his hometown. On Dec. 7, 1941, McKeeman was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including McKeeman.

From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.

In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (NMCP), known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including McKeeman.

In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for analysis.

To identify McKeeman’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome (Y-STR) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,781 (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. McKeeman’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Source: dpaa.mil/News Release, Release No. 18-195, Nov. 13, 2018