HONOLULU, Hawaii (KHNL/Gray News) - Military funeral honors were rendered Tuesday for a sailor who died during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Leonard Richard Geller was one of 429 casualties from the USS Oklahoma and the 22nd re-interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl.
Twelve of his relatives attended the burial.
“It’s about making sure that they understand the sacrifice that was made here. We talk talk about a grateful nation but it starts with a grateful family,” said Jerry Stumbo, Geller’s grandnephew.
The service was something the Geller family never imagined would happen.
It took 78 years to get to this day.
“I think my grandparents, if they were still here, they would be very proud that he has been identified,” Geller’s niece Georgene Hayes said.
After the remains of the unknowns from the USS Oklahoma were disinterred and underwent DNA testing, Geller was finally identified.
Geller's remains were among more than 300 sets of remains co-mingled in graves at Punchbowl.
Many families are now finding closure.
“To date the POW/MIA Accounting Agency has identified 216 of those sailors and Marines,” said Rear Adm. Jon Kreitz of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Eight months before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Geller mailed a letter to his grandparents, telling them he aced a test for Fireman 1st Class and he longed for his home in Oklahoma.
"We have some letters him and his parents wrote back and forth. You get a little flavor for his life," Stumbo said.
Geller was 21 when he was killed.
"I'm just glad it's done. We know where he is," Hayes said.
After the Pearl Harbor attack, Geller was listed as missing in action. That giant question mark has finally been erased.
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