Navy 01

S1C Elmer Patterson Lawrence

August 31, 1916 ~ December 7, 1941 (age 25) 25 Years Old
Obituary Image


     Navy Seaman 1st Class Elmer Patterson Lawrence, age 25, of Red Cross, KY was born August 31, 1916, and sadly passed away on December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

      On December 7, 1941, Lawrence 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 crewman, including Lawrence.

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

       In September 1947, the fallen from the USS Oklahoma were disinterred from those two cemeteries.  Thirty five men were positively identified at that time and the still unidentified remains were buried in 46 plots of the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.  In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Elmer Lawrence.

       Between June and November 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency personnel exhumed the USS Oklahoma Unknowns from the Punchbowl for analysis.  To identify Elmer’s remains, scientists used dental and anthropological analysis.  Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA analysis.

       Elmer Lawrence’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others missing from WWII.  A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

        Since his death, Elmer’s parents, Cornelius “Nealie” Lawrence and Minnie Cain; his sister, Gayneth “Peggy” Edwards; and his nephew, Stephen Lawrence Edwards have passed away.  Also passing after Elmer was his girlfriend, Marie Copas of Red Cross, KY, who never married.  Survivors include two first cousins that knew Elmer, 93 year old Bernadene Johnson, Glasgow, KY, and 90 year old Ted McDuffee, Anderson, IN.  Also surviving are Elmer’s niece, Jacqueline Bethel and her husband Charles, of Wooster, OH; his nephew, Michael Edwards and his wife Annette, of Brandenburg, KY; and several cousins, great nieces and nephews.

        Finally home in Kentucky, funeral services for Elmer Lawrence will be held at 2:30 CDT on Saturday, July 22, 2023 at the Shiloh General Baptist Church, 12050 Old Bowling Green Road, Smiths Grove, KY 42171, with Brother David Stearns and Pastor Allen Johnson, officiating.  (the church is actually located in Railton, KY).  Burial, with full military honors, will follow in the Shiloh Cemetery.  Visitation will be held at the church from 1:00 PM CDT until the time of service on Saturday.  The funeral service will be streamed live on the Shiloh General Baptist Church Facebook page.  Expressions of sympathy may take the form of contributions to Kentucky Wounded Heroes or to Friends of Lexington Fisher House. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of S1C Elmer Patterson Lawrence, please visit our floral store.


July 22, 2023

1:00 PM to 2:30 PM
Shiloh General Baptist Church
12050 Old Bowling Green Road
Smiths Grove, KY 42171

Funeral Service
July 22, 2023

2:30 PM
Shiloh General Baptist Church
12050 Old Bowling Green Road
Smiths Grove, KY 42171


Friends of Lexington Fisher House Foundation
P.O. Box 54481, Lexington KY 40555

Kentucky Wounded Heroes
P.O. Box 43048, Louisville KY 40253
Tel: 1-502-235-4262


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