Marines killed in Pearl Harbor laid to rest in California

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Eighty years after he died in the attack on Pearl Harbor and just months after his remains were finally identified, a California Marine has been laid to rest with full military honors.

About 50 people attended the ceremony for Pfc on Tuesday. John Franklin Middleswart at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego, the Union-Tribune reported.

Marines in dress blues fired a three-fire salute. Another Marine sounded ‘Taps’ on a flugelhorn.

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A military honor guard drapes an American flag over the coffin of the Marine Corps, Pfc.  John Franklin Middleswart in full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Tuesday, June 8

A military honor guard drapes an American flag over the coffin of the Marine Corps, Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart in full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Tuesday, June 8

Eighty years after he died in the attack on Pearl Harbor and just months after his remains were finally identified, the California Navy has been laid to rest with full military honors

Eighty years after he died in the attack on Pearl Harbor and just months after his remains were finally identified, the California Navy has been laid to rest with full military honors

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Benson, right, presents the flag that covered the US Marine Corps, Pfc.  John Franklin Middleswart casket, to his cousin Edward Brown during full military honors ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in San Diego

Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Benson, right, presents the flag that covered the US Marine Corps, Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart casket, to his cousin Edward Brown during full military honors ceremony at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Tuesday, June 8, 2021 in San Diego

pfc.  John Franklin Middleswart was laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego

pfc.  John Franklin Middleswart was laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego

pfc. John Franklin Middleswart (left in his high school yearbook, and right, in a newspaper clipping of him in uniform, was laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego

“What an amazing miracle it is to have John with us today,” said Navy Chaplain Robert LeCompte.

Middleswart was 19 when he was killed along with more than 400 other Marines and sailors aboard the battleship Oklahoma in a surprise attack by the Japanese that led the US into World War II.

He was identified through mitochondrial DNA extracted from Middleswart’s bones and compared with DNA from his sister and two of his cousins, the paper reported. The family was notified of the match in February.

Middleswart was 19 when he was killed along with more than 400 other Marines and sailors aboard the battleship Oklahoma in a surprise attack by the Japanese that led the US into World War II.  A Marine team deploys US Marine Corps, Pfc.  John Franklin Middleswart coffin on the horse-drawn funeral coachrouw

Middleswart was 19 when he was killed along with more than 400 other Marines and sailors aboard the battleship Oklahoma in a surprise attack by the Japanese that led the US into World War II. A Marine team deploys US Marine Corps, Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart coffin on the horse-drawn funeral coachrouw

About 50 people attended the ceremony for Pfc on Tuesday.  John Franklin Middleswart at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego

About 50 people attended the ceremony for Pfc on Tuesday. John Franklin Middleswart at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego

A military guard of honor escorts the coffin of the Marine Corps, Pfc.  John Franklin Middleswart for full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

A military guard of honor escorts the coffin of the Marine Corps, Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart for full military honors at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

“It’s the end of a journey,” said James Brown, 80, one of the cousins. “We couldn’t be happier.”

After the Pearl Harbor attack, Middleswart was officially reported missing and presumed dead, his remains ‘unrecoverable’. His parents were sent an American flag and a Purple Heart in his honor. But the lack of a grave with his name on it, the lack of a place to mourn him, weighed the rest of their lives, according to relatives.

His sister, Lauretta Brown, named one of her sons after him. Two of her other children, James Brown and Edward Brown, joined the Marines because of their uncle.

“We always hoped that one day they would identify him and bring him home,” said James Brown.

Middleswart was one of more than 400 crew members who died on the USS Oklahoma after it was torpedoed several times in an attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan

Middleswart was one of more than 400 crew members who died on the USS Oklahoma after it was torpedoed several times in an attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan

On May 24, 1943, the capsized battleship USS Oklahoma was lifted out of the water at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii

On May 24, 1943, the capsized battleship USS Oklahoma was lifted out of the water at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii

For nearly eight decades, soldiers' remains have been kept in unmarked graves (see above), but a breakthrough in DNA technology means families bereaved by the tragedy are finally shutting down.

For nearly eight decades, soldiers’ remains have been kept in unmarked graves (see above), but a breakthrough in DNA technology means families bereaved by the tragedy are finally shutting down.

Only 35 of the 429 sailors and Marines aboard the Oklahoma who died were identified after the attack.

The rest of the bodies remained on the ship until it was recovered at the end of the war. They were then buried in mass graves in Hawaii at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

But in 2015, the Department of Defense ordered that the bodies be exhumed and used new DNA technology to identify them and reunite them with their families.

Middleswart’s name is etched on a wall at the Honolulu Cemetery where many of the Oklahoma dead are buried. His name will soon be given a rosette, indicating that he is no longer missing, the newspaper reports.

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