Navy Fireman Third Class Kenneth L. Holm will make his final journey next week.
Holm was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it became the first American ship attacked by Japanese troops at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
The 29-year-old from Clarkfield, Minnesota, went down with the ship, as did 428 other U.S. service members.
Holm's remains were recently identified 75 years after the attack and the Navy announced this week they'll be flown to the Twin Cities on Tuesday. Holm will be buried with full military honors at Fort Snelling National Cemetery on Wednesday, August 9.
Decades as an "unknown"
It took nearly three years for the Navy to recover the remains of the sailors and Marines who died aboard the Oklahoma. But in those days they were not able to make matches between the skeletal remains and the names on the list of those killed, Stars and Stripes explains.
So all the remains were classified as "unknowns" and interred together at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, a site in Honolulu that was nicknamed the Punch Bowl.
That's how things stayed for more than 70 years. The science of using DNA to identify remains made big strides during that time, though. So in 2015 the Pentagon said the unknowns aboard the Oklahoma would be disinterred and analyzed by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Gradually, the remains are being identified and returned to their home states for burial. Just a couple weeks ago another Minnesota sailor who went down with the Oklahoma – Navy Fireman First Class Elmer Kerestes – was buried in his hometown of Holdingford.
Captain Nathaniel Strandquist, the commanding officer at the Navy Operational Support Center in Minneapolis, said in a statement this week: “Bringing our fallen home to their final resting place is a sacred obligation that our nation takes seriously, no matter how much time may have passed."
Stranquist says the sailors under his command are honored to provide full honors and they hope Wednesday's ceremony will bring closure to the Holm family.
Wednesday's funeral will be at 2 p.m.
In 2008 the Navy provided a headstone for a grave at the Holm family's cemetery plot in Clarkfield, a town of fewer than 900 people in southwestern Minnesota's Yellow Medicine County.