PVT Vernon Paul Buck Keaton

PVT Vernon Paul "Buck" Keaton

Denver City, Yoakum County, Texas, USA
Death 7 Dec 1941 (aged 18)
Pearl Harbor, Honolulu County, Hawaii, USA
Burial Lula, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, USA
Memorial ID 183762678 · View Source
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POSTED 2:28 PM, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017, NEWS OK.com

NORMAN, Okla. – A Norman family is getting closure after 76 years as they prepare to retrieve the remains of a lost family member who died in War World II.

DJ Gentry got a call from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency four years ago while she was at work. Through ancestry.com, Gentry was told she was linked to a soldier by the name of Private Vernon “Buck” Keaton.

She tells News 4, Keaton was her late mother’s cousin who enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps.

“She was 11 and he joined the marines. This was World War II. He quit high school to join the marines and make a living for his family, because his dad had been really seriously hurt in an accident,” explained Gentry.

Private Keaton was killed on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, which was on Battleship Row in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

“My mother always spoke highly of him. He was a really kind young man and she said he had the curliest hair you ever saw, so she thought really highly of him,” explained Gentry. “The family always thought he was lost in the carnage. We did not know his body actually existed.”

It turns out, the body has been buried in Honolulu for the past seven decades among others in mass graves. Gentry says the officials have decided to disinter all of the unidentified bodies and return it to their families upon proper identification.

“It was very surreal in the beginning. You don’t know if this is in fact a true caller or a bogus but then once I figured out that they were telling the truth, it became almost overwhelming,” said Gentry. “This just brings more realism to me about our country, our military and the sacrifices that were made.”

Gentry will meet with a forensics team from Quantico, Virginia on Saturday to make final preparations. She says a sergeant from Tinker Air Force Space will fly to Honolulu to receive the body.

He will eventually be buried in Oklahoma. ​


Vernon "Buck" Keaton was born on May 23, 1923, the only son of Guy and Amanda Keaton of Denver City, Texas.

He was attending Denver City high school when his father, a trucker, was injured while moving a house. The Keaton family moved to Lubbock in the wake of Guy's injuries; Vernon was forced to drop out of high school to help the family, and enlisted in the Marines on May 21, 1941, one month before he should have graduated from high school.

Keaton attended boot camp at MCRD San Diego, and was picked for Sea School after completing his initial training. Private Keaton joined the Marine detachment aboard the USS Oklahoma in 1941, and served aboard her until that December.

Buck Keaton was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. His parents were notified of his death on Christmas morning. On February 20, 1942, the Marine Corps League of Lubbock, Texas, was named the Vernon P. Keaton Detachment.


Marine on board the USS Oklahoma. Son of Amanda Keaton, Lubbock, TX.

In 2017, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. Vernon P. Keaton, killed in the Japanese attack on the USS Oklahoma during World War II, has been accounted for.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Keaton was assigned to the 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 crewmen, including Keaton.


Vernon Paul Keaton
Private, U.S. Marine Corps
Service # 309484
United States Marine Corps
Entered the Service from: Oklahoma
Enlistment Date: 30 May 1941
Rank: Private
Station: Marine Detachment, USS Oklahoma, Pearl Harbor, T-Hawaii
Awards: Purple Heart
Relative Name: Mother, Mrs. Amanda Keaton, Lubbock TX


Private Vernon Paul Keaton
March 25, 1923 - December 07, 1941
U.S. Veteran

Private Vernon Paul Keaton

Full funeral military honors by the U. S. Marine Corps. for Private Vernon Paul Keaton will be 2:00 p.m. Thursday, November 16, 2017 at the Lula Cemetery. Bro. Dale Smith will officiate.

Private Keaton died on December 7, 1941 aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Pearl Harbor attack. He was born March 25, 1923 to Guy Vine Keaton and Amanda McSperitt Keaton. He attended school at Breckenridge, Texas.

Survivors include his siblings, Sandra Sue Lewis of Weleetka, Ronald Peoples of Texas, Anita Larney of Henryetta, Jay Stokes of Yuma, AZ, Paula Stokes of Washington and Barbara Littlejohn of Texas.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and a sister, Blanche Eulee Keaton.

Graveside Service
Thursday, November 16, 2017
2:00 PM
Lula Cemetery
Lula, OK

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: JEF
  • Added: 26 Sep 2017
  • Find A Grave Memorial 183762678
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for PVT Vernon Paul "Buck" Keaton (23 May 1923–7 Dec 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 183762678, citing Lula Cemetery, Lula, Pontotoc County, Oklahoma, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .