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WWII veteran laid to rest in San Diego 80 years after death in Pearl Harbor attacks

PFC John Middleswart buried at Ft. Rosecrans
Marine PFC John Middleswart buried at Ft. Rosecrans.JPG
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-08 21:00:34-04

POINT LOMA, Calif. (KGTV) -- A San Diego Marine was buried at Fort Rosecrans Tuesday afternoon, 80 years after his death.

Since the Pearl Harbor attacks, the family of Marine Private First Class John Middleswart had no idea what happened to their loved one. But today, they said he is right where he needs to be: Home in San Diego.

Three rifle volleys rang at Fort Rosecrans to memorialize Marine Private First Class John Middleswart- a man who seemingly disappeared on December 7, 1941.

"When I was five years old, I remember him, but after that, he joined the Marine Corps, and he was gone," Middleswart's oldest nephew, Edward Brown, said.

On that day of infamy, the 19-year-old was serving on the USS Oklahoma, which was destroyed by an enemy torpedo. The US Navy was never able to identify Middleswart's remains. It was believed that his body was buried among hundreds of other unknowns at the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Oahu. That is, until the Defense POW-MIA Accounting Agency began using new DNA technology to identify remains in 2015. In February of this year, Middleswart's surviving family got the news they had been waiting for.

"After all of these years, he was unidentified, remains unrecoverable. All of a sudden, we have remains. He's home, so rest in peace."

Last week, Middleswart's body was flown into San Diego International Airport with full military honors. Tuesday, Middleswart's extended family was invited to a special memorial service at Fort Rosecrans.

"What an amazing miracle it is to have John here with us today," the Chaplain opened at the ceremony.

Through the miracle of science, Private First Class John Middleswart's family was able to say their first hellos and final goodbyes.

"I don't think any of them ever met him, but he's home," Brown said of dozens of relatives, including babies who attended the ceremony.