PUNCHBOWL (HawaiiNewsNow) - After nearly 80 years, the body of a Pearl Harbor sailor is finally home — thanks to advanced DNA technology.
Joseph Johnson died along with 429 others aboard the USS Oklahoma in the attack on Pearl Harbor, but his remains went unidentified for decades.
Most of the bodies on the ship couldn't be identified and Dennis Rislove, Johnson's nephew, said years went by with his mother not knowing what happened to her brother.
"It's historically important for us to remember that you know, freedom isn't free," Rislove said. "My mom and her sisters talked about Joe a lot. They were a very close family."
Three years ago, officials from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency began examining remains at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Punchbowl.
They were able to use Rislove's DNA to find a match.
"(It's) amazing that science has changed so much that they're able to do this. Because the family … all during that time never had any idea this might happen," Rislove said.
On Friday, Johnson's remains were flown in to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and there were military funeral honors on Saturday in his hometown of Rushford, Minnesota.
Rislove's 99-year-old uncle, who knew Johnson, was present at the military honors, along with other family.
"It's kind of a no man left behind. They are finally able to bring these people home," Rislove said.