By: Sophia Hernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 7, 2019
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Wednesday afternoon, the family of Seaman First Class Earl Paul Baum witnessed his remains being brought home for the first time in 77 years.
Baum died aboard the USS Oklahoma during Pearl Harbor. Decades later, through DNA testing, Baum's sister, Emily Golz, was able to find her brother's remains.
As the plane carrying Baum's remains touched down on the tarmac at Tallahassee International Airport, Golz thought, "My brother was in there. My brother is in there."
After 77 years, the Baum family says they're happy that Earl is finally making it back home.
Emily Golz relives the moment saying, "When the plane started coming toward me and then it turned, I had the strangest feeling I've never had before. It was a feeling of just feeling very proud."
For Earl's niece, Audrey Nicpon, she says, "I am so glad that everybody thinks that much of him, that they would do this much for him."
Audrey, honored that others would salute Earl in this way, says, "All of this for him, all of this."
Emily agrees, "It was the people I was proud of, so many people out there celebrating my brother."
For fellow seamen and others in attendance, they were happy to have witnessed and to have been a part of his arrival.
Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nunez said, "77 years have gone by and this family was able to have closure, and able to have his remains, and I think it's a beautiful day for this family, for this community and for this state."
Emily Golz stares out in awe as the Military Honor Guards salute her brother, "And I kept trying to capture what I felt, I really did, I didn't want it to go away."
The family never expected strangers to welcome Earl in this way.
"To do that for, you know, one man, I swore there's hundreds of people there and the airplane," remembers Emily. "They brought that one man, and you know it was just outstanding."
"I want to run up and hug up and kiss every one of them, every person that touched the casket, every person that saluted him. I just, this is the closest I've ever come to meeting him, but I'm glad I'm part of it," Audrey said.
Emily, now reunited with her beloved Earl, said, "He's finally home and I'm here watching it and all these other people are enjoying it ."
The Tallahassee community, fellow seamen and family, honored a man who sacrificed so much for his country.
As Carol Lynch, Deputy Judge Advocate General for Reserve Affairs and Operations,= and Deputy Commander Navy Legal Service Office Command, says, "You are home, shipmate. Thank you for your service, and you are an inspiration to all."