US sailor killed in Pearl Harbor attack laid to rest after nearly 80 years

Posted: Updated:
NEWTOWN, Pa. -

A Trenton-born United States sailor killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor has finally been laid to rest, nearly 80 years after the attack.

Angelo Gabriele was 21 years old when he was killed Dec. 7, 1941. He died trying to save the USS West Virginia in an attack by the Japanese army on the U.S. Naval base. His remains were unidentified at the time.

“My grandmother spent most of her life asking the Navy to bring him back,” says Peter DiPietro, Gabriele’s oldest living relative.

DiPietro was just 3 months old when his uncle was killed in the attack.

“It was so traumatizing to my grandmother that we never discussed it. Any time the subject would be brought up, she just could not handle it,” DiPietro says.

RELATED: New Jersey honors 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor attacks 

Gabriele’s body was recovered from the USS West Virginia after the attack. He was laid to rest as an unknown with his shipmates in a Hawaiian veteran’s cemetery known as the Punchbowl. The Navy used dental and anthropological analysis along with DNA to start making identifications in 2017.

“There were 35 like Angelo that had not been identified and recently have been disinterred so that they can do the identification,” says Rear Adm. John Schommer.

Schommer presented DiPietro a flag to honor his uncle at a burial ceremony at Washington Crossing Cemetery in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Gabriele was given full military honors.

“I just can't believe that they could go to that kind of effort for one sailor, I mean just think about it,” DiPietro says. “Wherever my grandmother is I'm sure she appreciates him being back here.”

Nearly 73,000 members of the U.S. military who served in World War II remain unidentified or unaccounted for.

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