SAN DIEGO – Eighty years after his death 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 fifty people attended the ceremony on Tuesday for Pfc. John Franklin Middleswart at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in his hometown of San Diego, the Union-Tribune reported.
The Marines in formal attire fired a three-volley rifle salute. Another Marine sounded “Taps” on a bugle.
“What an incredible miracle to have John with us today,” said Navy Chaplain Robert LeCompte.
Middleswart was 19 when he was killed along with over 400 other Marines and Sailors aboard Battleship Oklahoma in a surprise Japanese attack that led the United States 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 her nephews, the newspaper reported. The family were informed of the game in February.
“It’s the end of a trip,” said James Brown, 80, one of the nephews. “We couldn’t be happier.”
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Middleswart was officially listed as missing and presumed dead, his remains “unrecoverable”. Her parents received an American flag and a Purple Heart to honor her. 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.
Her sister, Lauretta Brown, gave her name to one of her sons. Two of her other children, James Brown and Edward Brown, joined the Marines because of their uncle.
“We still hoped that one day they would identify him and bring him home,” said James Brown.
Middleswart’s name is carved on a wall in the Honolulu cemetery where many of those killed in Oklahoma are buried. Soon his name will be added to a rosette, signaling that he is no longer missing, the newspaper reported.