Minnesota sailor killed at Pearl Harbor returns home

More than seven decades after Pearl Harbor, a Minnesotan who died in the attack was finally brought home. 

Radioman 2nd Class Quentin Gifford was just 22 years old when he was killed on the USS Oklahoma during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Harold Gifford, Quentin’s brother. “I couldn't imagine that there would be this much honor and respect shown for my brother. He earned it.” 

The Navy listed him as lost in action until his remains were exhumed from a national cemetery in Hawaii and positively identified using DNA from his siblings last year. 

“There’s indication he was killed instantly and not one of those who had to suffer in the overturned ship, by virtue of the fact that evidence showed part of his skull was crushed,” said Harold. “That was a relief to me because I had fears he might have been one of those guys stuck who died a horrible death.” 

Now, after three-quarters of a century of anticipation, this sailor from Mankato is back on Minnesota soil. 

Gifford’s two surviving siblings and their families watched as his flag draped coffin was transferred from a plane to a hearse. 

“Very emotional, but it’s wonderful that people came out like that,” said June Shoen, Quentin's sister. “I look up there and I see people in there and I just can’t believe that they are doing this for my brother.” 

Quentin may have lost his life thousands of miles from home, but his family takes comfort knowing his final resting place will be at home in Minnesota. 

“My brother paid the price, but now he’s getting his just reward with all these honors,” Harold said.

“That’s why we brought him back, because he deserves to be here," June said. "He deserves this.” 

A funeral service will be held at the Fort Snelling Memorial Chapel at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. A committal service and full military honors will follow at 11 a.m.