Tribute to Elyria sailor who died at Pearl Harbor touches hearts of many

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CLEVELAND, Ohio-- Thursday was a solemn homecoming for a son of Northeast Ohio, who died 75 years ago during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

The remains of U.S. Navy yeoman Rudy Piskuran, 19, were returned to the Cleveland area, decades after he was killed on Dec. 7, 1941.

Piskuran was on board the USS Oklahoma, when the ship capsized after being hit by Japanese torpedoes. The tribute paid to him has touched the hearts of Piskuran's surviving relatives.

"It's humbling pride, and just, we're overwhelmed with just the magnitude of this solemn day and the outpouring of people; it's just incredible-- the people that came out to honor my uncle," said Joanne Janas.

The weight of history and Rudy Piskuran's service and sacrifice is felt by those who carry his remains home. The casket was escorted by his great-nephew, one of a number of family members who followed in Rudy's footsteps in service to the country.

Rudy Piskuran will be laid to rest on Friday at Saint Mary's Cemetery in Elyria, near family members who passed away over the decades waiting for Rudy to be returned home.

His homecoming is the result of the tenacity of the U.S. Navy and the marvels of modern science. The Navy decided to use DNA testing to identify the remains of sailors who died at Pearl Harbor, but were never positively identified.

In April, the Navy notified Rudy Piskuran's family that a comparison of DNA from surviving family members with the remains of a sailor from the USS Oklahoma, confirmed that Rudy was among the 429 sailors who died on board the ship that day.

"They gave their lives in service of our country and Pearl Harbor should never be forgotten and that day should just live on forever and people should remember what they went through, and the sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice they gave to our country," said Janas.