Exactly 78 years after the day of his death, Marley R. Arthurholtz was laid to rest a final time.
Hundreds of community members and veterans gathered on the brisk Saturday morning for Arthurholtz’s burial at St. Joseph Valley Memorial Park cemetery in Granger to honor the 20-year-old South Bend native. Sniffles could be heard throughout the service, some due to the cold and some from holding back tears. Arthurholtz’s brother, John, flew in from California to watch his older brother buried in a plot next to his parents, Mary and William Arthurholtz.
“That’s what my mother wanted,” John previously told The Tribune.
Marley Arthurholtz served as a private in the Marine Corps aboard the USS Oklahoma when he and 428 others on the ship were killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. His remains were later collected and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
In 2015, in an effort to identify the missing, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency exhumed the remains of the unknowns who had perished aboard the Oklahoma. At the end of October, the DPAA announced in a news release that Arthurholtz’s remains had been identified using dental, anthropological and DNA analysis, and that later this year, they would be interred in Granger. Mary Arthurholtz had bought the plot for Marley after he was declared killed in action in January 1942. She hoped someday his remains might be found and returned home, John said, and that hope came true Saturday.
During the hourlong graveside service, the Rev. Darwin Scandling recounted the day Arthurholtz died, a day that launched the U.S. into World War II and the impact it had on the Arthurholtz family. He also touched on Arthurholtz’s life before the war, growing up in a “tough, German home,” his closeness with his family and his talent in basketball.
“Most (stories I know) are about basketball,” said Jeff Arthurholtz, a nephew. “It seems he was very good and he loved to have my dad there with him. … It’s little family stories that mean the most to you, and those are the ones you hold tight.”
A day before the attack, Arthurholtz had been photographed with a fellow Marine on the streets of Hawaii buying Christmas presents, Scandling said. That story in particular resonated with Ed Francis, a Navy veteran who served in Desert Storm and attended Arthurholtz’s service to show support.
“I shivered when I heard that,” Francis said. “Not 24 hours after that photograph, his life and the country’s life would change forever.”
After the U.S. flag that covered Arthurholtz’s coffin was folded and given to John, a 21-shot volley was made while veterans stood at attention. The crowd proclaimed “Semper Fi,” the motto of the Marine Corps, and as most began to return to their cars or pay their respects directly with the family, a single voice could be heard.
“Welcome home, Marine,” he said.
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