NEWPORT TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A sailor killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor was finally laid to rest in his hometown--77 years after his death.
It took all these years, but the Department of Defense finally identified the remains of that sailor from Luzerne County. On Saturday, he was laid to rest in his hometown with full military honors.
Navy Seaman First Class Edward Slapikas was killed during the attacks of Pearl Harbor at the age of 26. His remains were buried in Hawaii and only recently identified through DNA.
Escorted by members of the U.S. Navy, Slapikas' remains were carried from Strish Funeral Home in Ashley past groups of people waving flags and welcome home signs to Holy Spirit Parish in Glen Lyon. Finally, Slapikas was laid to rest in his hometown, the Wanamie section of Nanticoke.
"He is a veteran that never fired a shot during the war. He died in the beginning and was one of the first casualties of war," said Vietnam veteran Paul Kearney.
Slapikas was aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was hit by Japanese torpedoes on December 7, 1941.
Thousands died that day, but for nearly 80 years, Slapikas was buried with others killed in the attack. His identity unknown until now.
"They identified his remains and brought him back here, so it's an honor to bring him home to his hometown," Kearney added.
Petty Officer First Class Matthew DeAngelo was one of the servicemembers carrying the casket for Slapikas.
"It is just a unique experience to be a part of and it really pulls on the heartstrings," said DeAngelo.
"To support the community, to support the sailor that was killed, I think it's pretty cool they discovered his body through DNA testing," said Brian Bell of Nanticoke.
"I wondered to myself how do these people know what time the hearse drives by or have they been waiting for an hour and a half for the procession to come by?" said Frank Slapikas of Alabama. "It was a beautiful ceremony."
Frank Slapikas was honored by the amount of people who showed up just to say thank you to his uncle.
"It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. It showed me a lot about the people especially in this area."
Slapikas was buried with full military honors including receiving the Purple Heart.