Minnesotan killed in attack on Pearl Harbor is coming home 76 years later

Navy Fireman First Class Elmer Kerestes was aboard the USS Oklahoma

A Navy fireman who was one of the first Minnesotans to be killed in World War II is finally coming home. 

Navy Fireman First Class Elmer Kerestes was aboard the USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when it was struck by torpedoes and quickly capsized, a news release says

The 22-year-old from Holdingford Township was among the 429 sailors and Marines to be killed on the ship that day. The USS Oklahoma suffered the second-most fatalities in the attack, behind the USS Arizona. 

At the time, officials were only able to identify the remains of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma. The remains of those who weren't identified – including Kerestes – were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, and they were classified as "non-recoverable," the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency says.

But a few years ago, officials dug up the men who hadn't been identified from the USS OKlahoma in hopes of figuring out who they were. Earlier this year, they matched remains to Kerestes using DNA analysis and circumstantial evidence, the agency says. 

And now – 76 years later – he's finally coming home.

Kerestes' remains are expected to arrive at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Thursday afternoon, ahead of a funeral that's scheduled for Saturday. 

A procession will escort Kerestes' remains from the airport to the funeral home in Melrose, and then there will be another procession from the funeral home to Highland Cemetery in Holdingford Saturday morning. 

Kerestes grew up in Holdingford and enlisted in the U.S.Navy in August 1939. He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously. The VFW Post #5160 is named after him, and he's also remembered at the Soldiers Shrine of World War II in Holdingford, which is said to be the oldest WWII monument in the country

More information about the processions and funeral, which is open to the public, can be found here and here.

Next Up

moose minnesota usfws - flickr

MN homeowner mistakes large tent for dead moose

They spotted two people on a security camera dragging the "moose" across a driveway.

Flickr - minneapolis police officer close-up belt camera - Tony Webster

What happens if Mpls. public safety question passes? City memo provides answers

The memo was sent to the mayor and council members Tuesday morning.


COVID-19 hits Minnesota Wild coaching staff

The Wild will be shorthanded for Tuesday night's game in Vancouver.

Anthony Edwards

Ant takes alpha role after bad loss: 'We need to lock the f*** in'

The Timberwolves' rising star was not happy after Monday's loss to the Pelicans.

parker eisinger

Lakeville football player diagnosed with cancer week before playoffs

The tenth-grader was diagnosed with a form of cancer most commonly found in people aged 65 and older.

University of Minnesota peeping tom suspect

Someone keeps trying to film showering women at U of M

The university has received three reports in the past two weeks.

john Fluevog shoes 1

John Fluevog Shoes closes its Uptown Minneapolis store

The brand could return to the Twin Cities one day.

sidecar drink

Sidecar — Town Hall's new cocktail lounge — is officially open in Minneapolis

It's the fifth Town Hall location, but the first to focus on cocktails.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Here's where DFLers stand on Minneapolis' public safety ballot question

The question would create a Department of Public Safety and remove some requirements.

Arthur Kollie

Man pleads guilty to brutal murder of 14-year-old girl in Fargo

The 14-year-old girl was the victim of a random attack outside a Fargo strip mall.

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates 2021 - jacob frey sheila nezhad kate knuth

Here's who has endorsed the frontrunners for Minneapolis mayor

Politicians and community groups are voicing their opinions.


Minnesotans mark 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack

The surprise attack killed 2,403 Americans and wounded 1,178 others.

Screen Shot 2021-06-06 at 10.11.22 AM

Remains of Minnesota soldier killed in Pearl Harbor attack identified

The remains of Neal K. Todd will be buried in Akeley next month.

Minnesota survivor returning to Pearl Harbor to mark 70th anniversary

December 7, 1941, is a day that lives in infamy but it's also the day that made a man out of Ernie Mattson. That's what the 96-year-old Bloomington man says of the day he took cover aboard the USS Nevada and waited out a half-hour barrage of bombs.