HOLDINGFORD, Minn. (KMSP) - After more than 75 years, one of the Minnesotans killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor is coming home.
Elmer Kerestes will finally get a proper burial in his hometown of Holdingford, Minnesota on July 29.
“March 6, 2017, I'll never forget that day, that was great yeah,” said Janet Klug, the oldest living relative of Kerestes.
Her uncle lost his life when the USS Oklahoma capsized in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
In March, she got the call his remains had finally been identified.
Elmer grew up the son of farmers and joined the Navy to learn a trade.
He was one of the 429 sailors killed on the Oklahoma, only a few were originally identified and the rest buried in Hawaii.
“It's a homeboy, he's here and his life was sacrificed for his country and now we found him,” said Robert Pueringer of the local American Legion.
His name is well-known in Holdingford and one of four names gracing the World War II memorial in town. It’s thought to be the first such memorial in the nation.
“76 years ago this guy got killed and never came back and now he's coming back and that's a big deal for us guys,” said Herman Ebnet, the local VFW Commander.
It was two years ago when the Department of Defense began a new effort to identify the Oklahoma soldiers. DNA samples were taken from several of Kerestes’ relatives.
The family was told in March it was a match.
He'll be buried next to his parents in Highland Cemetery near the town and will get full military honors.
Klug is happy the military is still working on answers.
“I really think that's the thing to do, I really appreciate they're doing this for all these families even if it's after so many years,” she said. “You always want to know.”