Re­mains of Pearl Har­bor sailors re­turn home af­ter 77 years

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE -

HONOLULU — More than 75 years af­ter nearly 2,400 mem­bers of the U.S. mil­i­tary were killed in the Ja­panese at­tack at Pearl Har­bor, some who died on Dec. 7, 1941, are fi­nally be­ing laid to rest in ceme­ter­ies across the United States.

In 2015, the De­fense POW/MIA Ac­count­ing Agency ex­humed nearly 400 sets of re­mains from the Na­tional Memo­rial Ceme­tery of the Pa­cific in Hawaii af­ter de­ter­min­ing ad­vances in foren­sic science and ge­nealog­i­cal help from fam­i­lies could make iden­ti­fi­ca­tions pos­si­ble. They were all on the USS Ok­la­homa, which cap­sized dur­ing the at­tack, and had been buried as un­knowns af­ter the war.

Al­to­gether, 429 sailors and Marines on the Ok­la­homa were killed. Only 35 were iden­ti­fied in the years im­me­di­ately af­ter the at­tack. The Ok­la­homa’s ca­su­al­ties were se­cond only to the USS Ari­zona, which lost 1,177 men.

As of ear­lier this month, the agency has iden­ti­fied 186 sailors and Marines from the Ok­la­homa who were pre­vi­ously uniden­ti­fied.

Slowly, the re­mains are be­ing sent to be re­buried in places like Traer, Iowa, and On­tanogan, Michi­gan.

Here’s a look at some of those who have ei­ther al­ready been re­buried this year or who will be in­terred to­day:

Durell Wade

Wade was born in 1917 in the Hardin Town com­mu­nity of ru­ral Cal­houn County, Mis­sis­sippi. He en­listed in the Navy in 1936 and in 1940 re-en­listed for an­other twoyear tour.

His burial in his home state was orig­i­nally planned for a week­end, when it would be more con­ve­nient for peo­ple to at­tend. But be­cause of sched­ul­ing con­flicts at the North Mis­sis­sippi Vet­er­ans Memo­rial Ceme­tery, his fam­ily de­cided the 77th an­niver­sary of the at­tack would be an ap­pro­pri­ate date, even if some peo­ple have to take time off, said his nephew, Dr. Lawrence Wade.

He was one of the sailor’s rel­a­tives who pro­vided DNA to help iden­tify him.

“My mid­dle name is his name, Durell. My grand­son has that name also,” said the 75-year-old re­tired psy­chi­a­trist from Ba­ton Rouge, Louisiana. “I’d gone through my life not re­ally know­ing any­thing about him, other than I car­ried his name and he was killed at Pearl Har­bor. Once this DNA process came along and made it pos­si­ble to iden­tify his re­mains, it just made him much more of a real per­son to me.”

Wade’s sib­lings in­cluded four older sis­ters and one older brother, ac­cord­ing to a bio pre­pared by his nephew. The Wade chil­dren were ed­u­cated by two teach­ers hired by their par­ents to live in the home and teach them un­til a com­mu­nity school was built on do­nated prop­erty. Wade had writ­ten home in Septem­ber 1941 that he had just taken pro­mo­tion tests from Avi­a­tion Ma­chin­ist Mate 2nd Class to Chief Avi­a­tion Ma­chin­ist Mate.

His nephew has been plan­ning his fu­neral. A gospel singer will sing the na­tional an­them. Bag­pipes will play. Pi­lots will con­duct a fly­over. Mis­sis­sippi Gov. Phil Bryant and Capt. Brian Horts­man, com­mand­ing of­fi­cer of Naval Air Sta­tion Merid­ian, will make re­marks.

William Brue­se­witz

Re­nate Starck has been pon­der­ing the eu­logy she’ll give at the fu­neral for her un­cle, Navy Sea­man 1st Class William Brue­se­witz, to­day.

“We al­ways have thought of him on Dec. 7,” she said. “He’s al­ready such a big part of that his­tory.”

Brue­se­witz, of Ap­ple­ton, Wis­con­sin, will be buried in Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery, near Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “It’s a real bless­ing to have him re­turn­ing and we’ve cho­sen Ar­ling­ton be­cause we feel he’s a hero and be­longs there,” Starck said.

About 50 fam­ily mem­bers from Wis­con­sin, Flor­ida, Arkansas and Mary­land will at­tend.

“We were too young to know him but we’re old enough that we felt his loss,” Starck said. “We know some sto­ries. There’s this sto­ic­ness about things from that time that kept peo­ple from talk­ing about things that hurt.”

Brue­se­witz’s mother died in child­birth when he was 6 or 7, Starck said. Her fa­ther and Brue­se­witz were close broth­ers. When Brue­se­witz was 14, they built barns in Wis­con­sin, Starck said. They were ed­u­cated in Lutheran schools.

William Kvidera

Hun­dreds of peo­ple filled a Catholic church in Traer, Iowa, in Novem­ber for William Kvidera’s fu­neral.

The solemn cer­e­mony in his home­town in­cluded full mil­i­tary hon­ors, the Water­loo-Cedar Falls Courier re­ported.

“It’s some­thing like a dream,” his brother, John Kvidera, 91, said.

John Kvidera was 14 when he found out about the bomb­ings at Pearl Har­bor and re­mem­bers hud­dling around a ra­dio to find out what was go­ing on. The fam­ily ini­tially re­ceived a tele­gram say­ing William, the old­est of six sib­lings, was miss­ing in ac­tion.

A tele­gram in Fe­bru­ary 1943 no­ti­fied the fam­ily of his death.

Robert Kim­ball Holmes

The re­mains of Marine Pfc. Robert Kim­ball Holmes were in­terred in Au­gust in his home­town of Salt Lake City.

“It’s strange, isn’t it, to be here hon­or­ing a 19-year-old kid killed 77 years ago,” nephew Bruce Holmes said.

Only one per­son in at­ten­dance at the grave­side ser­vices — an­other nephew and name­sake Bob Holmes — had any per­sonal mem­o­ries of the Marine, The Salt Lake Tri­bune re­ported.

The younger Bob is now more than four times older as the sailor when he died. He re­mem­bers his un­cle com­ing home on leave in the sum­mer of 1941 when he was 6 years old.

Bob Holmes re­called talk­ing to a friend of his un­cle who served with him on the Ok­la­homa: “He said, ‘One of the things that I re­mem­ber most about Bob is that he had this at­ti­tude. Not just a Marine at­ti­tude, but a Holmes boy at­ti­tude — de­fi­ance, ag­gres­sion and don’t-mess­with-me.”

Low­ell Val­ley

For 20 years, Navy Fire­man 2nd Class Low­ell Val­ley’s brother worked to iden­tify USS Ok­la­homa sailors.

Now that Val­ley has been iden­ti­fied and his re­mains have been re­turned home to On­ton­agon, Michi­gan, Bob Val­ley ex­pects his role in help­ing iden­tify a group of 27 sailors will soon be over. All 27 have been lo­cated.

Low­ell Val­ley was buried at the Holy Fam­ily Catholic ceme­tery in July, the Iron Moun­tain Daily News re­ported.

Leon Arickx

More than 76 years af­ter he died, the re­mains of Navy Sea­man 1st Class Leon Arickx were buried on a bril­liant sum­mer day at a small ceme­tery amid the corn­fields of north­ern Iowa.

Hun­dreds gath­ered in July for Arickx’s grave­side ser­vice at Sa­cred Heart Ceme­tery out­side Osage, Iowa, in a sparsely pop­u­lated farm­ing re­gion just south of Min­nesota, where Arickx grew up. Among them was his niece, Jan­ice Schon­rock, who was a baby when Arickx died.

“My fam­ily talked about him all that time,” said Schon­rock, 77. “I felt I knew him be­cause ev­ery­one talked about him.”

Although they didn’t have Arickx’s re­mains, his fam­ily held a memo­rial ser­vice and placed a grave marker at Sa­cred Heart Ceme­tery in 1942. When his re­mains were fi­nally re­turned, they were buried at a site not far away.

Schon­rock said her fam­ily ap­pre­ci­ates the work it took to iden­tify her un­cle, but she be­lieves it’s es­sen­tial to iden­tify as many ser­vice mem­bers as pos­si­ble.

“I think we need to honor these peo­ple who give their lives to our coun­try and bring them back to their home coun­try where they can be close to fam­ily who can honor them,” she said. “No one should be left be­hind.”


Part of the hull of the cap­sized USS Ok­la­homa is seen at right as the bat­tle­ship USS West Vir­ginia, cen­ter, be­gins to sink af­ter suf­fer­ing heavy dam­age, while the USS Mary­land, left, is still afloat in Pearl Har­bor, Oahu, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.


A cas­ket con­tain­ing the re­mains of U.S. Navy Sea­man 1st Class Ed­ward Slapikas, a New­port Twp. na­tive killed while serv­ing aboard the USS Ok­la­homa in the Ja­panese at­tack on Pearl Har­bor in De­cem­ber 1941, is taken from a hearse dur­ing a burial ser­vice at St. Mary’s Ceme­tery in Nan­ti­coke on June 9. Slapikas’ re­mains were iden­ti­fied ear­lier this year and re­turned to Luzerne County for burial 77 years af­ter his death. Ad­vances in DNA tech­nol­ogy mean pre­vi­ously uniden­ti­fied US sailors and Marines killed at Pearl Har­bor are fi­nally be­ing laid to rest in their home­towns.


ABOVE: U.S. Navy Rear Adm. John Kri­etz presents a folded Amer­i­can flag to Mark Arickx, nephew to Sea­man First Class Leon Arickx, at Sa­cred Heart Ceme­tery in Osage, Iowa, on July 7. Arickx’S re­mains, which were uniden­ti­fi­able af­ter his death af­ter the at­tack at Pearl Har­bor in 1941, were iden­ti­fied through DNA test­ing ear­lier this year. RIGHT: Navy Sea­man 1st Class William G. Brue­se­witz of Ap­ple­ton, Wis., was killed on the USS Ok­la­homa and will be buried to­day in Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery, near Wash­ing­ton.


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