A sailor from New Jersey killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the United States into World War II will be laid to rest next weekend in his hometown.
Family members have issued an open invitation to the Sept. 14 funeral for Fireman 3rd Class Harold Kendall "Bud" Costill, 18, a sailor on the battleship USS West Virginia who was killed in the Japanese attack on Dec. 7, 1941, the Cherry Hill Courier Post reported.
"We have reserved the performing arts center at Clayton High School for the funeral service because it is the only place in town big enough to hold such a large crowd," said Costill's 93-year old brother Gene, a former Clayton mayor and councilman and the only surviving sibling of the five Costill children.
Costill's remains had been interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in one of nearly three dozen caskets buried as "unknowns" among the 106 killed aboard the West Virginia. The Department of Defense notified the family in June that Costill had been positively identified through DNA, anthropological and other examinations 78 years after being listed officially as missing in action.
The Elks lodge, Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial in Camden and Baseball Old Timers Inc. are among groups planning to attend.
"The Battleship New Jersey crew feels a fraternal bond with all battleship sailors, and we want to be there," said Larry Hennessy, the quarterdeck officer who will head a contingent of museum volunteers.
Costill was in an engine room when the ship, moored at Ford Island, was hit by torpedo and aerial bombs, one of which hit the ship's ammunition and caused a fire.
Thalbert "Pug" Snyder, Harold's best friend and one of the scheduled speakers at the funeral service, remembered his friend as an innovator and problem solver who loved being on Silver Lake in Clayton and eagerly awaited the fall hunting season each year.
"He also loved the sea and his time on the battleship and was in the process of becoming an electrician's mate," said Snyder, who served in the South Pacific during the war
Family members said Costill will be buried next to the high school in the family plot in Cedar Green Cemetery, beside his great-grandfather Elwood Costill, a Civil War soldier.
Costill's parents are not here to see their son come home. His sister, Joan Costill Burke, until her death in 2015, waged a campaign to have him located and identified, said her daughter, Nancy Eckler of Williamstown.
"If my mom had lived to see this day, she would be elated that her brother was finally coming home to be buried close to his family. I know that my mom is smiling in heaven," Eckler said.