A U.S. military member who died when the ship he was aboard capsized during the Pearl Harbor attack will be laid to rest in San Diego after his remains were identified just years ago.
Nearly eight decades after USS Oklahoma sunk during the Pearl Harbor attack, Steward’s Mate 2nd Class Jesus Francisco Garcia will be buried Wednesday at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with full military honors.
Garcia, who was born in Guam, died in 1941 at 19 years old and was unidentified for decades until scientists were able to identify his remains in recent years. The U.S. Navy tracked down Garcia’s family and contacted them to arrange the service member’s funeral.
Jesus Garcia’s nephew Sonny Garcia told NBC 7 he received a call of the remains in 2019 but due to the coronavirus pandemic, was unable to immediately get started on holding a funeral for his uncle. Although Sonny Garcia lives in Texas, many of his relatives live in San Diego so the family decided to lay the fallen to rest in America’s Finest City.
“I think they would be absolutely over the moon that this is occurring, happy that they all get closure,” Sonny said of what he thinks his father’s and grandparents’ reaction would have been.
Sonny added that although he never knew his uncle, he heard stories of him growing up and appreciates his service and sacrifice. He also said his family is eternally grateful to the U.S. Navy for identifying their loved one.
“We have to account for all of the fallen soldiers that have gone missing,” Sonny Garcia said. “So, we owe it to their families and our country. That’s the promise. And they’re keeping their promise.”
Although Fort Rosecrans is full, Jesus Garcia will be able to be laid to rest at the Point Loma cemetery since it has space set aside for service members killed in action. There, Garcia will be placed alongside some of his former shipmates.
Four hundred twenty-nine sailors died aboard USS Oklahoma and so far, 388 service members have been positively identified.
“I’m grateful to the United States Navy for not giving up, and to continue to account for all those men and women that have gone missing and have not been repatriated back to the United States and so that their families can get closure,” Sonny Garcia said.