A US Navy Fireman has been buried near his home in Joliet, Illinois more than 75 years after he was killed in a Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that sunk his ship USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, a media report said.
Fireman First Class Michael Galajdik was finally buried with full military honours, which included a 21-gun salute and the playing of “Taps” by sailors from the Great Lakes Naval Station yesterday, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Galajdik was only 25 years old when Japan attacked the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2,400 Americans and destroying a number of ships.
“I feel relieved and emotional,” said George Sternisha, Galajdik's nephew. “It's been a long journey.”
Galajdik had previously been interred at the Hawaiian naval base along with hundreds of other sailors. But thanks to DNA testing officials were able to identify which remains belonged to Galajdik, the paper said.
The process started in 2009 as new technology became available, Sternisha said.
He regrets his mother, Galajdik's sister, was unable to see it before she died in 1993. Sternisha said his mother, Anna, helped raise Galajdik when she was just a teenager.
Galajdik's funeral procession which traveled about a mile was lined with hundreds of supporters carrying American flags.
The procession of about 70 vehicles were led by a firetruck, several police vehicles and about two dozen motorcycle riders from various veterans organisations.
“Both of my grandfathers served in World War II,” said Michael Winbun, of Joliet, waving a flag as the procession passed. He said he wanted to show his support when he heard the Joliet veteran was coming home.
Groups dotted the route from the church to Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, where Galajdik was finally buried.
“We're all here to support veterans,” said Lee Young, of the Illinois Patriot Guard, which led the pack. “It's very touching, very happy and very sad at the same time…It's amazing they could finally do this.”
Robert Mcleod, representing the state department of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said it's up to families to keep pushing for officials to bring their loved ones home.
Some government officials have been working diligently the past several years to return those killed in the battlefield.