BOURNE (CBS/AP) — A sailor from Connecticut who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor has returned to New England.
Water Tender 1st Class Stephen Pepe, of Bridgeport was buried Monday morning at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.
His niece, 99-year-old Terry Kovacs, was there to receive the flag from his casket.
“He was, quite a man,” said Kovacs. “He used to send me postcards, and the ones he’d send me were all embroidered in silk.”
Pepe was a crew member on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, which sustained multiple torpedo hits during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. The battleship quickly capsized, taking with it the lives of 429 crewmen.
Pepe’s remains were originally classified as non-identifiable and were buried in Hawaii with the remains of other non-identifiable sailors.
“I wanted him not to be anonymous; I wanted him not to be with other people,” Pepe’s great-niece Barbara Kovacs said. “I wanted him to be alone, I wanted him to be in a beautiful place, near his family.”
His remains were disinterred in 2015 and through the use of advanced mitochondrial DNA analysis, anthropological analysis, and circumstantial evidence they were positively identified earlier this year.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)