The faded telegrams from the Navy Department are stiff and crisp to the touch after nearly 60 years.
Henry "Hank" Blitz saved them along with photographs and mementos of his two brothers, Leo and Rudolph Blitz. The telegrams were the first news that the Blitz family had of the twins' untimely deaths at the age of 20.
The telegrams arrived on Christmas Eve 1941. Both twins died on board the USS Oklahoma when it and other Navy ships were attacked Dec. 7 at Pearl Harbor. The Blitz boys, seven years younger than Hank, had enlisted in the Navy as teen-agers. Their tour of duty was scheduled to be up in April 1942.
Hank also has their Purple Heart commendations- the medals they earned posthumously and the letters from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, offering the nation's condolences and gratitude for lives given in defense of their country. The medals and letters hang in his basement, which also serves as the genealogical repository of the Blitz family. Almost every wall is filled with photographs of grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
"They (the twins) were good kids. They were ornery. You just had to laugh at them all the time," said Hank, now 87, and struggling with health problems.
He recalled once when the twins were not allowed to go on leave together, so they both dated the same girl, who never knew that she was actually dating two different men because they looked so much alike.