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Remains of sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack to be buried at Fort Snelling

Fort Snelling National Cemetery is shown in this undated photo.

DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

By EDIE SCHMIERBACH | The Free Press (Tribune News Service) | Published: May 10, 2018

The remains of a U.S. sailor from Mankato, Minn. who was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor will be buried with full military honors 11 a.m. Saturday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.

Radioman 2nd Class Quentin John Gifford was 22 years old when he died aboard the USS Oklahoma when it was torpedoed Dec. 7, 1941, during an attack by Japanese Imperial Navy on the U.S. naval base near Honolulu.

Gifford, born in Iowa, lived in Comfrey in Brown County before his family moved to Mankato, where he attended Catholic school.

Before he joined the U.S. Navy in 1938, he served in the National Guard and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The U.S. Navy had listed Gifford as lost in action for more than 74 years.

His remains were among those of hundreds of sailors' buried in a group grave near Honolulu after the attack. Gifford's remains, along with those of others, were exhumed several years ago and forensic scientists confirmed their identification.

"At our ages, it's good to put some finality to this," June Shoen of Warroad said last summer soon after the notification about her brother's remains.

Identification was due in large part to analysis of DNA contributed by Shoen and siblings, Harold Gifford, of Woodbury, and the late Earl Gifford.

A military burial at Fort Snelling National Cemetery is what his late brother deserves, Harold Gifford said last year.

"Harold and I decided we didn't want to leave him (Quentin) at The Punch Bowl (the national cemetery in Hawaii)," Shoen said.

"Gifford's burial is the fifth this year for Minnesota sailors who have recently been identified," said Petty Officer Jeffrey Grand, funeral honors coordinator with the Naval Operations Support Center-Minneapolis.

The other sailors' services were held in their hometowns, which include Holdingford, in central Minnesota, and Emmons, Iowa.

"This one is a bit different in that the family has requested their brother be buried at Fort Snelling Cemetery," Grand said.

The wishes of family members are always considered when arrangements are made for military burials, he said.

"We provide about 600 services for veterans every year," Grand said, noting the honor he's experienced by providing help to the families of the deceased.

Quentin Gifford had been posthumously awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor, a Purple Heart and the World War II Victory Medal, he said.

Rear Adm. Linnea Sommer-Weddington will present U.S. flags to Gifford's surviving siblings during services Saturday.

Gifford's remains will arrive Friday in Minneapolis. After Gifford's casket is transferred from military personnel to a funeral director, a procession to Woodbury will begin. The procession along Interstate 494 will be escorted by representatives of sheriff departments and a motorcycle escort by the Minnesota Patriot Guard Riders.

Members of the Woodbury Veterans of Foreign Wars will be on hand for the casket's arrival at the Wulff Woodbury Funeral Home.

There is no visitation at the funeral home.

Visitation begins 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Fort Snelling Chapel. Gifford's funeral is 9:30 a.m. in the chapel.

Members of the general public who wish to attend graveside services are urged to arrive early and be prepared to stand for long periods of time.

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©2018 The Free Press (Mankato, Minn.)
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