After nearly 80 years, one family got to say goodbye at the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery in Mandan.
“Having the closure for my grandfather’s brothers and siblings and the rest of the family. Just being able to have that closure almost 80 years later, they’re finally able to honor their sibling and inter him into the veteran’s cemetery,” said Staff Sgt. Steven Renner.
Navy Fireman 2nd Class Albert Renner was killed on the USS West Virginia when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. For 79 years, his remains, along with at least 66 other crewmen, went unidentified until recently.
Renner was honored at a full military service Friday afternoon where family, military members and the public paid their respects.
“Today was special because not only do we have Naval service but we also have the National Guard here, showing a unified front to bury a service member and give him a great send-off for them and their family,” said Stevie Greenway, Navy Operational Support Center Commanding Officer.
Renner says his great uncle inspired his own enlistment.
“Uncle Albert was a driving factor of me joining the military,” Renner said. “I know my parents let me come in early at the age of 17 to join.”
Following the service, two T-6 planes flew over the cemetery. Greenway says the funeral is a good reminder to recognize those who serve.
“It’s absolutely critical for the younger generations to understand what the past and the people who gave their life, the ultimate sacrifice, to see that America is who we are from the people who gave their lives,” Greenway said.
Renner says the funeral will help serve another purpose, as well.
“I know one of my daughters is going to have one heck of a history report, the teacher’s expecting it, cause it’s a very significant event that happened here today.”