Sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack is buried on 77th anniversary
By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 7, 2018
DALLAS – None of the family members attending the funeral of Navy Fireman 1st Class Albert Kane on Friday ever met him.
As a 26-year-old sailor on board the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor, he was killed long before they were born. But they still understood the importance of bringing him home to Dallas where he can rest in peace among his fellow veterans.
“I wish my dad, his grandparents and my uncles were alive to see this,” said Charles Kane, the 67-year-old nephew of the sailor. “I been told that you die three deaths.”
The first, he said, is the physical death. Then the funeral.
“Your third death is when the last person that remembers you dies,” Charles Kane said. “At least he hasn’t had his third death yet.”
Albert Kane was buried on the 77th anniversary of his death at the Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery in Texas. The sailor was born in Fort Worth and much of his family remains in the area today.
Beneath a gray, cloudy sky, more than 50 people gathered at the cemetery to honor the sailor’s sacrifice. Atop the casket sat a sailor hat worn by the deceased’s brother, Raymond Kane, who enlisted in the Navy after his brother’s death.
A Navy chaplain recited several psalms, following a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps.
Though the family had visited the mass grave that previously held Albert Kane’s remains, it brought a sense of closure and relief to know he was now in his own individual grave, said retired Navy Capt. Bob Golden, a nephew-in-law of the deceased.
“It brings closure regardless, but it’s more poignant that it happened today,” he said, noting the anniversary of the attack on the U.S. naval base in Hawaii that forced America into World War II.
Born in Fort Worth on Jan. 5, 1915, Albert Kane joined the Navy on Oct. 28, 1940 and worked in the engine room of the USS Oklahoma. He died along with 428 other crewmen onboard the battleship on Dec. 7, 1941. Moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, the ship sustained multiple torpedo hits, causing it to capsize quickly. In total, 2,400 servicemembers died when the Japanese attacked the base.
At the time, the Navy sent the young sailor’s belongings back to his mother – a wallet, a watch and a can of popcorn.
“He helped manage a movie theater here in Fort Worth, the Isis Theater,” Charles Kane said. “A friend sent him some popcorn from the theatre in a coffee can. I guess that was in his locker. They recovered that and sent that back to my grandmother.”
Dee Dee King, a contract genealogist for the Navy’s POW/MIA branch who helped identify Albert Kane’s remains, attended the funeral Friday. It’s the second service that she’s attended of the 1,200 reports that she done for the Navy.
Based in Houston, King said she was happy to make it out to see the Kane family find closure.
“Even if the family members didn’t know them, it means so much,” she said of the hundreds of families she spoken to in her work. “They learn about their family member and get a source of pride. This is what it’s all about.”
From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew of the Oklahoma, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu cemeteries in Hawaii.
In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.
The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time, and subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu.
Two years later, a military board classified servicemembers who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Kane.
In April 2015, the Pentagon issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for analysis.
So far, the agency has identified 186 sailors and Marines from the Oklahoma who were previously unidentified, reported The Associated Press. Albert Kane’s remains were identified Aug. 9.
“My uncle’s death really affected my family,” Charles Kane said. Albert Kane was the middle of three sons, and following his death, both brothers, who are now deceased, joined the Navy.
James Kane, the oldest brother, joined after first recovering from a hernia, expecting to go somewhere across the globe. Instead, he was stationed just about walking distance from his home, Charles Kane said. His uncle worked on a flight line at Meacham Field in Fort Worth. He died in 1986.
Charles Kane’s father, Raymond Kane, was an airplane mechanic stationed in Hawaii, then Enewetak Atoll and finally Guam. He died in 2008.
“Several of my dad’s and uncle’s friends joined the Navy, too, because of this,” Charles Kane said. He also continued his family’s service, retiring from the Marine Corps with two years active duty and 18 years in the reserves.
Despite never having met his uncle, Charles Kane said he is grateful to bring Albert Kane home and finally put his body to rest.
“He would have been a great uncle to have,” Charles Kane said. “He was a good-looking man. He would have been a lot of fun to be around.”
As King was leaving the cemetery, she took another look over to the Kane family.
“I hear people ask why we go through all this effort,” she said. “If it was your father, brother or uncle, you would know. (The Defense Department) is putting everything where their mouth is – no person left behind. This is the proof of that statement.”