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Coming Home: Navy identifies remains of sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack

A folded flag sits on a casket during ceremonial funeral training at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Feb. 22, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Sadie Colbert/Released)

Dalyne Sapp of Effingham was a child when her oldest brother, Keith Tipsword, died in the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.

Now 86, Sapp was haunted for decades by the fact that his remains had never been recovered.

Until now.

Sapp recently learned that DNA samples she submitted five years ago with her sister, Betty Fae Yocum of Greenup, showed a relationship to DNA of remains recovered by the U.S. Navy. Yocum died three years ago.

Sapp expected to discuss plans with Navy officials on Friday about bringing her brother home to be laid to rest in Moccasin Cemetery, near Beecher City, where the family has already placed a marker in his memory.

“He was the oldest in our family of children, and I was the youngest,” Sapp said. “I’m the only one out of seven that are still alive.”

Sapp and other relatives are overcome with the news.

“Unbelievable,” Sa9p said. “It’s just astonishing to get a phone call like that. It’s marvelous. One of my nieces and I decided it’s a miracle. God had to take care of that. No one else could. No human being could have brought all this about without his help.”

Keith’s cousin, Kenny Tipsword of Edgewood, has been equally thankful for the closure.

“It’s been 81 years,” Kenny Tipsword said. “It’s sad enough when a person dies in defense of our country. And then to not know for sure where his remain are …

“The sailor is home from the sea. He’s coming home. We know where he’s at. The uncertainty is gone.”

A 2019 story in the Effingham Daily News outlined Keith Tipsword’s service:

Tipsword grew up in Effingham County, specifically in Moccasin. He served aboard the USS West Virginia.

Tipsword enlisted in the U.S. Navy, and after graduating from basic training, he was assigned to the USS West Virginia, also nicknamed, “The Wee Vee,” where he served for the remainder of his life. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

His relatives say Tipsword was a bright young man, a straight-A student who enjoyed writing. But coming of age during the Great Depression, he needed to learn a trade, so he enlisted in the Navy.

According to the USS West Virginia website, Keith Warren Tipsword, Petty Officer, was born June 21, 1914, in Moccasin, Effingham County. He began his service Nov. 3, 1936, at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, where he was for three months.

Tipsword, had been promoted to Machinist Mate. He had already served four years with the Navy, and was in his two-year extension at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“At that point in time, if you were in the Navy and were on a battleship that was thought to be prime duty, It was deemed unsinkable,” Kenny Tipsword said in the 2019 story.

Honor reported that he is also memorialized at Courts of the Missing, Court 2, Honolulu Memorial National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific Honolulu, Hawaii, which is where there is an American Battle Monument.

The attack

When the Japanese attacked on that Sunday morning, the USS West Virginia took several torpedo hits.

According to its website, the West Virginia took five 18-inch aircraft torpedoes to her port side and two bomb hits, each being a 15-inch armor-piercing shells fitted with fins.

“The first bomb penetrated the superstructure deck, wrecking the port casemates and causing that deck to collapse to the level of the galley deck below. Four casemates and the galley caught fire immediately, with the subsequent detonation of the ready-service projectiles stowed in the casemates,” according to USS West

Keith Tipsword’s duty station would likely have been in the engine room, relatives suggested.

While his life was cut dramatically short at age 27, the family tells stories that he had planned a future with his fiancee.

“He had a girlfriend. He was engaged to be married,” said Jerry White, of Altamont, a nephew to Keith Tipsword. “She was a Navy Nurse named Nell. He told her and his parents he didn’t want to marry until after the war because he didn’t want his life interrupted, with the war coming.”

Others who served

White said there were others on the USS West Virginia who were also from Effingham County, including Guy Davidson of Effingham and Vail Broom of Edgewood. Both men survived the war.

In the book, “They Served with Honor,” which is a compilation of stories from the Effingham-Area World War II 50th Anniversary Committee, edited by Craig Lindvahl, there is a story about Keith’s brothers, Deane and Hugh Tipsword.

“After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, and the notice from the war department that Keith was presumed to have died on that day, my other brothers, Deane and Hugh, went together to enlist in the Army,” wrote Gayle Tipsword Norris, their sister.

Local historian Jane Ries said after their military service was finished, Deane and Hugh Tipsword returned home safely, although both were treated in different hospitals for combat wounds. While their military paths were different, they both served with honor as well. Hugh Tipsword was a paratrooper. Deane Tipsword was commissioned as a First Lieutenant and later rejoined as an Army Reserve officer.

Deane Tipsword died on March 30, 1982, and is buried at Danville National Cemetery in Danville, Illinois.

Hugh Tipsword died on July 6, 1977, and is buried at Cheyenne Memorial Gardens in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Another Effingham County native who was killed during the Pearl Harbor attack was Louis H. Dasenbrock. Dasenbrock was the son of Frank and Helen Dasenbrock and a St. Anthony High School graduate. Dasenbrock was a member of the Army Air Corps, an aerial warfare service between 1926 and 1941, now the United States Air Force.

Dasenbrock entered the service in 1940 and was stationed in Hawaii at Hickam Field as an engineer for a B-17 bomber plane with the 50th Reconnaissance Squadron. He was killed in action at Hickam Field during the attack on Pearl Harbor, at the age of 22.


(c) 2022 the Effingham Daily News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.