Paul Louis Boemer was born on January 29-JAN 1921 in St Louis, Missouri. His father was Albert Albert Daniel Boemer (1879–1963) and his mother was Julia Bridget Bowers (1883–1962). In 1930 the family lived on Dewey Avenue in St. Louis. In 1940, the family lived on Montana Street in St. Louis. Paul attended Cleveland High School. He had seven brothers: William, Vincent, Jack, Daniel, Fred, Earl, and Vincent and one sister: Ida.
Paul joined the Navy on 6-DEC 1938 three years before Pearl Harbor was attacked. On 18-APR 1939, he was mustered aboard the U.S.S Henderson. At that time, he was a Seaman 2nd Class. The USS Henderson (AP-1) was a transport in the United States Navy during World War I and World War II.
On 31-DEC 1940 he was mustered aboard the U.S.S Oklahoma BB-37 moored at Ford Island, at Pearl Harbor Hawaii. His rank was Seaman 1st Class. He was a Coxswain. The USS Oklahoma was attacked by Japanese aircraft and sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Boemer.
He was listed as “missing” by the U.S. Navy on 22-DEC 1941. He was later listed as killed in action on 7-DEC 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, at the age of 20. He is memorialized in Honolulu, Hawaii.
As reported by the St. Louis Star Times on 5-MAY 1942, “The Navy’s casualty list contained 2991, 2495 of which were missing and 907 wounded.” Several St. Louis families still did not know the status of their loved ones by May of 1942. Thirty-five of the dead were from St. Louis and St. Louis County. Four were from rural Missouri and seven from the east side. Two were from St. Charles County.
On September 29, 2020, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) identified the remains of Coxswain Paul L. Boemer, missing from World War II. Coxswain Boemer’s remains were recovered from the ship following the incident; however, they could not be identified at the time and were buried as unknown remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. In 2015, the DPAA received authorization to disinterred and reexamine unknown remains associated with the Oklahoma using advances in forensic technology. Paul Boemer’s remains were exhumed and eventually identified as part of this effort.
For more information about Paul Boemer, the Oklahoma recovery effort and his homecoming, click on the link below.
God Bless You Paul L. Boemer.