PUNCHBOWL (HawaiiNewsNow) - Before they were disinterred, Paul Smith Raimond's remains lay in a grave at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl – a grave that was marked 'Unknown.'
"He's not just a person in the grave," said Raimond's nephew, Wayne Starkweather.
Raimond was a teenager in Texas when he joined the Navy right out of high school. In 1941, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor, aboard the USS Oklahoma, when Japanese pilots torpedoed and capsized the battleship.
Raimond was one of the 429 crewmen aboard the ship who were killed. Since his death, his family has held onto a single photograph of Raimond in uniform – the only one of him.
It was a means to keep his memory alive.
"We all knew who he was, and what he'd done for his country and for his family," Starkweather said.
Recently, the Navy exhumed one of the graves at Punchbowl containing victims from the attack. Through DNA and dental records, they were able to match some of the remains in the grave to Raimond's family.
"They came to me back in May of this year and said, 'We have identified your uncle,'" Starkweather said.
On Tuesday, 75 years after his death, Raimond was remembered for his sacrifice with full military honors.
"It's been important for the families to be able to have these ceremonies once the remains have been identified, and to be able to inter their loved one," said Rear Adm. Mike Holland, Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Since 2015, 70 sets of remains at Punchbowl have been positively identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency as sailors who died on the Oklahoma.
"I tell you, the Navy is just doing a great job to make these type of things happen for the families. We appreciate them," Starkweather said. "So when (Starkweather's mother) passed away I grabbed that picture and made sure we kept that family tradition together."
Later this month, Punchbowl will hold two more ceremonies for USS Oklahoma sailors whose loved ones have been waiting decades for a formal farewell.