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Local Seaman’s Family Grateful For Closure

December 7, 2018
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Local Seaman’s Family Grateful For Closure

On this Pearl Harbor Day, Frank Slapikas feels a sense of closure

His uncle, killed on this day 77 years ago in Pearl Harbor, is finally home.

The remains of Seaman 1st Class Edward Slapikas were laid to rest in June in a cemetery near his boyhood home in the Wanamie section of Newport Twp.

“It’s kind of closure. I wish his brothers were still alive to see it,” Frank Slapikas, 80, said.

While he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941, Edward Slapikas’ remains were never identified until earlier this year. Through DNA testing, the military was able to identify his only known relative, an 89-year-old niece, Leona Hotko of Kingston.

When news broke about the identification and planned homecoming, Frank Slapikas read about it on the internet. He made plans to travel from his home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to attend his uncle’s much-belated funeral.

“It was a special day. I thank the people of your area. It was a day I’ll never forget,” Frank Slapikas said. “The fact people were lined up on both sides of the road with flags was just mind boggling.”

Frank’s father, Frank Sr., was the oldest of five brothers. Edward was the youngest.

Frank was just 3-years-old when Edward died on the date which lives in infamy.

Though he didn’t remember his uncle, he heard of him often growing up from the stories shared by his uncles.

While they never had official confirmation, Edward Slapikas’ family felt safe to presume he was one of the 429 unidentified bodies from the USS Oklahoma buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly called the “punchbowl cemetery.” The bodies were exhumed in 1947, but only 35 sets of remains were identified. The unidentified remains were then reinterred. Several years ago, the organization exhumed the bodies again and took them to laboratories.

Frank Slapikas said he is glad the U.S. government never gave up on reuniting families with remains of loved ones lost on that fateful day.

“It was a total surprise,” Frank Slapikas said.

Contact the writer:

bkalinowski@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2055, @cvbobkal

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