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 Tuesday for Pfc. 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-volley rifle salute. Another Marine sounded “Taps” on a bugle.
“What an amazing miracle it is to have John with us today,” Navy Chaplain Robert LeCompte said.
Middleswart was 19 when he was killed along with more than 400 other Marines and Navy sailors aboard the battleship Oklahoma in a surprise attack by the Japanese that led the U.S. into World War II.
He was identified through mitochondrial DNA, extracted from Middleswart’s bones and compared to DNA from his sister and two of his nephews, the newspaper reported. The family was notified of the match in February.
“It’s the end of a journey,” said James Brown, 80, one of the nephews. “We couldn’t be happier.”
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Middleswart was officially listed as missing and presumed dead, his remains “non-recoverable.” His parents were sent an American flag and a Purple Heart to honor him. But not having a grave with his name on it, not having a place to mourn him, weighed on them the rest of their lives, according to family members.
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 were always hoping one day they would identify him and bring him home,” James Brown said.
Middleswart's name is etched on a wall at the Honolulu cemetery where many of those killed on the Oklahoma are buried. Soon his name will have a rosette added to it, signaling that he is no longer missing, the newspaper reported.