Reunited Again- Pieper Twins from WWII Finally Laid to Rest Together
Julius Heinrich Otto “Henry” Pieper and Ludwig Julius Wilhelm “Louie” Pieper were twins. They had enlisted in the Navy together in WWII, and worked together at Burlington Northern Railroad before that. But on June 19, 1944, the Pieper twins were separated when their LST-523 (Landing Ship Tank) hit a mine and sank as it was headed to take supplies and bring rescue to the wounded troops at Utah Beach. They are no longer separated, thanks to DNA and the efforts of groups that work to unite the fallen with their loved ones.
The Pieper twins were 19-year old sailors, sons of German immigrants, were from Esmond, South Dakota. Both were “Radiomen 2nd class.” The LST-523 – a flat bottomoed boat- was making the hazardous trip from Falmouth, England across the English channel to Utah Beach. It struck a mine and broke up.
There were 145 men aboard the LST, and 117 of them perished. Between the horrendous storm that was on the channel that day and the explosion of the ship, few survived.
Louie’s body was found and identified soon after the disaster. Henry’s body was not located until a French diver found him and thirteen others in 1961. But DNA was unknown then, so Henry was buried in a grave in Ardennes, Belgium. It was marked “Unknown X-9352” with a cross that said “Known only to God” until 2017, when his DNA was matched to that of his brother.
Louie was interred at Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France. The family asked that his body be moved in order to make room for his brother to be buried beside him.
According to Fox, there are at least 9,380 graves at the Normandy American Cemetery, and after the Piepers, 45 of them are brothers. Only Julius and Ludwig are twins.
On Tuesday, June 19, Julius Heinrich Otto “Henry” Pieper was to be laid to rest beside his brother at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial…with full military honors and his family in attendance.
Featured photo via Wikimedia commons Public Domain,