The remains of a Minnesotan killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor will be flown to the Twin Cities this week for a funeral and burial with full military honors at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
Radioman 2nd Class Quentin J. Gifford was on the USS Oklahoma when it was capsized by Japanese torpedoes on Dec. 7, 1941. Only the USS Arizona suffered more fatalities at Pearl Harbor.
The 22-year-old from Mankato was listed by the Navy as lost in action from February 1942 until his remains were exhumed in 2015 from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific grave site about 9 miles from Pearl Harbor.
Three of Gifford's siblings contributed DNA for analysis in 2016. His remains were identified in July 2017 thanks to the DNA results, circumstantial evidence and dental comparisons.
Gifford's remains will be flown to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport on Friday, where military honors will be held on the tarmac.
His funeral is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
This is the fourth recently identified Minnesotan aboard the USS Oklahoma to return home, and a fifth will follow later this year. Military authorities have yet to release that serviceman's identity.
"Our country is pouring a lot of resources" into identifying remains of service members and seeing they receive proper recognition, Capt. Nathaniel Strandquist of the Navy Operational Support Center Minneapolis said Monday. "We are committed to bringing home everyone we can."
Flags will be presented to a brother and sister of Gifford by Rear Admiral Linnea Sommer-Weddington, deputy director of computer systems and information technology for U.S. Strategic Command.
"I am honored and humbled to participate in this event," Sommer-Weddington said in a statement.
Harold Gifford, of Woodbury, said the last time he saw his brother alive was when Quentin was home on furlough. He said Quentin advised him to stay in school despite the financial pressures on the family.
Harold Gifford followed his brother's advice and later qualified as a cadet in the Army Air Corps. He had a successful career as a pilot, once conducting an emergency landing for a flight carrying the NBA Minneapolis Lakers during a blizzard in 1960.
"Had I not taken his advice, I probably would have been drafted, and I could very well have been under a white cross somewhere a very long time ago," Harold Gifford said in an interview with the Star Tribune soon after Quentin's remains were identified last summer. "His advice changed my life."
The American Battle Monuments Commission gives a fairly detailed account of the fate of the USS Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor and the fate of the some of the remains.
Heavy enemy fire capsized the ship, leading to the deaths of 429 crew members. The recovery of remains from the Oklahoma spanned more than 2½ years.
The remains were interred first in cemeteries in Hawaii and exhumed in 1947, when only 35 crew members were identified. The remainder were interred again until ordered exhumed in 2015.