Home­com­ing for ABQ fam­ily Re­mains of lo­cal woman’s un­cle killed in at­tack are iden­ti­fied Copy­right © 2018 Al­bu­querque Jour­nal BY MADDY HAY­DEN JOUR­NAL STAFF WRITER

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

For Al­bu­querque res­i­dent Racheli Bauer, to­day, 77 years af­ter the sur­prise Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, is an es­pe­cially poignant an­niver­sary.

Her un­cle, Navy ra­dioman Petty Of­fi­cer 3rd Class Dante Sylvester Tini, was one of 2,403 ser­vice mem­bers and civil­ians killed dur­ing the at­tack that led to the coun­try’s en­try into World War II.

But Tini’s re­mains were never iden­ti­fied.

Then, in Au­gust, Bauer got a call say­ing that the DNA she had pro­vided three years ear­lier was a per­fect match to bones ex­humed from an area called the Punch-

bowl, where the re­mains of hun­dreds of uniden­ti­fied USS Ok­la­homa ca­su­al­ties were in­terred.

Dante Tini had been found. “They warned us,” Bauer said. “‘We don’t plan on find­ing any­thing. It’s been 77 years.’ When they called, they couldn’t be­lieve it. They were just as ex­cited as I was.”

Though it’s been more than three-quar­ters of a cen­tury, the loss is still painful for his fam­ily.

“I didn’t think I would be this emo­tional, be­cause I never knew the man, but every time I talk about it, I start to cry,” said Racheli Bauer’s hus­band of 50 years, Don Bauer. “It’s an amaz­ing thing.”

The USS Ok­la­homa was moored next to the USS Mary­land on Bat­tle­ship Row when its port side was struck by eight tor­pe­does that morn­ing.

In just 12 min­utes, the ship cap­sized, trap­ping hun­dreds of men un­der­wa­ter.

From De­cem­ber 1941 to June 1944, the Navy worked to re­cover re­mains of the 429 men killed aboard the Ok­la­homa, ac­cord­ing to the De­fense POW/MIA Ac­count­ing Agency. They were then buried in two Hawai­ian ceme­ter­ies.

In 1947, the re­mains were dis­in­terred and sent to a lab in an ef­fort to iden­tify the men.

Tech­nol­ogy of the day re­sulted in just 35 men be­ing iden­ti­fied at that time.

Those who were still uniden­ti­fied were re­buried at the Na­tional Memo­rial Ceme­tery of the Pa­cific, in an old vol­canic de­pres­sion area known as the Punch­bowl about seven miles south­east of Pearl Har­bor in Honolulu.

In April 2015, the DPAA re­ceived per­mis­sion to dis­in­ter the re­mains once again for anal­y­sis.

Of the 388 sets of re­mains re­cov­ered, 187 have been iden­ti­fied, DPAA spokesman Chuck Prichard said.

And work at the DPAA’s Omaha, Neb., lab con­tin­ues.

“Fam­i­lies want an­swers,” Prichard said. “And that’s what we’re try­ing to pro­vide.”

Tini was the son of Ital­ian im­mi­grants who set­tled in the min­ing com­mu­nity of Vir­ginia, Minn.

He was a hand­some young man who loved sports and play­ing the mother-of-pearl ac­cor­dion his fa­ther had brought over from the old coun­try, and had “lots of girl­friends,” Racheli Bauer said.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing from high school in June 1940, he en­listed in the Navy in July, as soon as he turned 18.

When the tele­gram bear­ing the tragic news of his death ar­rived at the fam­ily’s doorstep, Tini’s mother, still learn­ing to speak English, did not un­der­stand its con­tents.

“My grandma read the tele­gram and said, ‘Oh, look here, it says that your brother is a good boy and he’s hav­ing a good time in the Navy,’ ” Bauer said, then she threw it in the trash.

Bauer’s mother, Alda, then a young girl, plucked it from the garbage and trans­lated it for her and Tini’s mother.

“That af­fected her the rest of her life,” Bauer said of her mother.

Bauer said Tini’s par­ents and sib­lings were al­ways hope­ful the re­mains of their son and brother would some­day be iden­ti­fied and re­turned home.

In May, he’ll be buried in Min­nesota in the same ceme­tery as his par­ents and his sis­ter Alda.

Even af­ter los­ing her young son in the war, Dante Tini’s mother, Racheli, re­mained a proud patriot, Bauer said.

“My mom later on of­fered to take my grandma back to Italy,” said Bauer. “She said, ‘No­body made us come here. We are Amer­i­cans now. That’s why I let my boy go and fight for Amer­ica.’”

JIM THOMP­SON/JOUR­NAL

Racheli Bauer holds a photo of her un­cle, Dante Sylvester Tini, who was killed at age 18 on the USS Ok­la­homa dur­ing the Dec. 7, 1941, at­tack on Pearl Har­bor.

COUR­TESY OF RACHELI BAUER

Navy Ra­dioman 3rd Class Dante Tini, left, with his Navy bud­dies in 1941.

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