MANKATO, Minn. – The family of a Minnesota sailor who was killed in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor has received confirmation that exhumed remains are his.
Two of Radioman 2nd Class Quentin Gifford's siblings learned this week that tests on DNA they submitted last year confirmed the remains were those of their brother, who was 22 when he died.
June Shoen, 80, said she cried when she received the news.
"Seventy-five years ago I was 6 years old at the time. I vaguely remember a Mass was held at the Catholic Church in Mankato," said Shoen, who grew up in Mankato but who lives in Angle Inlet now. Her only specific memory of Quentin is of sitting in his lap as he played a guitar.
Shoen said she and her 93-year-old brother, Harold Gifford, of Woodbury, can now have closure on the death of their sibling and make burial plans.
"At our ages, it's good to put some finality to this," Shoen said.
Quentin Gifford was killed when the USS Oklahoma capsized after being struck by torpedoes on Dec. 7, 1941, The Free Press reported. The U.S. Navy had listed Gifford as 'lost in action.'
Memorial services are tentatively scheduled at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
"Quentin deserves to be honored with a ceremony," said Harold, who also served in World War II. He credits success in life to advice from his brother, who was four years his senior.
"He is the reason I joined the Air Corps," Harold said, referring to the predecessor to the Air Force.
Human remains gathered from the attack site were brought to a Navy laboratory in 1941. Relatively few of the 429 killed could be identified. Unidentified remains were buried in a gravesite in Hawaii. In 2015, a process began to exhume sailors so their DNA could be analyzed.
Information from: The Free Press, http://www.mankatofreepress.com