Remains of Pearl Harbor sailors return home after 77 years
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 agency has identified about 190 sailors and Marines who were previously unidentified.
Here’s a look at some of those who have either already been reburied this year or who will be interred on Friday:
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 two-year tour.
His burial in his home state was originally planned for a weekend. 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, said his nephew, Dr. Lawrence Wade.
William Bruesewitz: Renate Starck has been pondering the eulogy she’ll give at the funeral for her uncle, Navy Seaman 1st Class William Bruesewitz, on Friday.
Bruesewitz, of Appleton, Wisconsin, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. “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.
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.
“My family talked about him all that time,” said Schonrock, 77. “I felt I knew him because everyone talked about him.”
On July 7, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral John Krietz presents a folded American flag to Mark Arickx, nephew to Seaman First Class Leon Arickx, at Sacred Heart Cemetery in Osage, Iowa. 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.