Twin brothers from Esmond, South Dakota, are finally being reunited 74 years after the Navy men died together in World War II in Normandy.
The remains of Julius Heinrich Otto “Henry” Pieper were laid to rest with his twin brother, Ludwig Julius Wilhelm “Louie” Pieper, at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial last week, The Associated Press reported.
The brothers died when their Naval ship shattered while trying to get to the Battle of Normandy on June 19, 1944, when the French beaches were still stained with blood from D-Day. The vessel struck an underwater mine and sank off the coast, killing 117 of the 145 on board.
Julius Heinrich Otto "Henry" Pieper and Ludwig Julius Wilhelm "Louie" Pieper, two 19-year-olds from Esmond, South…
Louie’s body was found and laid to rest soon after the wreck, but Julius’ body was recovered in 1961 by French salvage divers and was not identified until 2017, with the help of a U.S. agency that tracks missing combatants using witness accounts and DNA testing.
Both were radiomen second class. Their family asked that Louie’s grave be relocated so Julius could be by his side.
Six Navy officers in white uniforms carried the coffin containing Julius’ remains, draped in an American flag, and one bulger played taps as it was lowered into the ground.
Each of the half-dozen family members who attended the ceremony placed a red rose on the casket. Two family members scattered American soil over it.
“They are finally together again, side by side, where they should be,” said their niece, 56-year-old Sacramento. California, resident Susan Lawrence.
The twins are the 45th set of brothers to be buried at the cemetery, but the only set of twins. Lawrence described them as “the best of friends” and “always together.”
“Mom told me a story one time when one of the twins had gotten hurt on the job and the other twin had gotten hurt on the job, same day and almost the same time,” she said.
After the brothers had crossed the English channel on their way to Normandy, they wrote their parents a letter saying, “do not worry about us we are together,” Lawrence said.
“My grandparents received that letter after they got word that they (their sons) had passed away,” she said.
(H/T: The Associated Press)