Theodore Que Jensen was killed in battle during the tragic surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on Sunday, December 7, 1941. After almost 80 years, his remains will return home through the great assistance and the honor of the United States Navy. Theodore was born on May 28, 1919 in Mount Pleasant, Utah; the 5th of the 7 children born to Charles Mathew and Marie Johansen Jensen. His family moved to Sutherland when he was 2 years old and he grew up helping out on the family farm. Theo’s mother passed away when he was 6 years old. He and his siblings shouldered the responsibility of keeping the home and family functioning at a young age. He became a skilled carpenter and as a teen built all the cabinetry as well as many other parts of their home.
He graduated from Delta High School. Being raise with the spirit of community and patriotism, in August of 1940, Theodore and 7 other young men from the tiny community of Sutherland, Utah decided to all enlist in the military together. Theo enlisted for a service period of six years in the Navy. Following boot camp, he was assigned to duty onboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma (a Nevada-class battleship). Because of his hard work, intelligence and dedication; in just 16 months he had earned the rank of Radioman 3rd Class, a post of great trust. During his free time, he had also just completed his solo flight and was on the cusp of receiving his pilot’s license.
As the Japanese air squadron made their final turn on the Harbor, the U.S.S. Oklahoma was docked to the outside of another ship, and so was one of the first potential targets they encountered. The battleship was hit by several torpedoes from torpedo bomber-planes and capsized. That day over 2,400 military personnel were killed. Unable to deal with the massive number of deaths, casualties were placed in boxes unidentified and, by special arrangement, buried in various cemeteries on the island.
Theodore was not forgotten at home. The Cahoon-Jensen American Legion Post bares his name and has encouraged respect and patriotism for our military by honoring untold numbers of veterans through military rites, school programs and participation in countless parades and football games. The name recognizes Arthur L. Cahoon, the first battle casualty from our community in World War I; and Theodore, the first of World War II.
In 2015, Congress passed an initiative to exhume, identify through DNA tesing, and return home the remains of those lost at Pearl Harbor. Identification is an intensive process that involves not only sampling the remains, but also tracking down and sampling the DNA of their relatives. On July 26, 2020, in Offutt, Nebraska, the work to identify Theo began. On December 17, 2020, just over 79 years after his death, Theodore was identified and his official death certificate filed.
Since his passing, Theo was joined in death by his siblings: Ruth Steele, Beth Brasher, Auer Jensen, Bert Jensen, John “Jack” Jensen, and Bonnie Maxfield. He is remembered by his nieces: Sharon Senecal, R’Lene Hoggan, Elcee Crafts, Vickie Jensen, Susan Kooyman, Julie Maxfield, Margaret Riebeek, Tina Maxfield; nephews: Verl Jensen, Theo Dennis Brasher, Michael J. Brasher, Phillip Jensen, Alan Jensen, John B. Jensen, Eddie Jensen, Mont Maxfield, Stephen Jensen.
A Homecoming Remembrance Service will be held on Wednesday, June 2, at 1:00 pm, at the RJ Law Community Center. The community is invited to begin gathering at 12:00 noon. A Military Honors Ceremony will be provided by representatives of the US Navy and Cahoon-Jensen American Legion Post at the Delta City Cemetery following the service. The recorded video of the service is available at: https://youtu.be/_EgSlPwRa0I.