OSAGE, Iowa - People gathered at Sacred Heart Cemetery on the east edge of Osage to pay their respects to Seaman First Class Leon Arickx.
Arickx was part of the crew of the USS Oklahoma, which sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Thanks to advancements in DNA testing, Arickx's remains were identified by the Navy, who contacted Arickx's niece Mary Galey to start the process of getting him laid to rest in his hometown and near other members of his family.
"Here in the cemetery, you'll see some saddles on top of the graves that are red white and blue, and two American flags. There's 8 of them buried here in the cemetery that we made these so they could identify the Arickx family," Galey says.
Both Galey and another niece of Arickx, Jean Lonergan, find it appropriate that their uncle would be laid to rest surrounded by family members, and will bring closure for the family.
"They still have, in Punchbowl [was where he was], they still have stakes with his name on stuff over there, and his name is on the Oklahoma chart, and...they got enough of him there, so we decided the rest should be brought home."
Family members remembered Arickx as a jokester who loved to tease all family members, and also loved to dance. He is survived by 17 nieces and nephews and numerous cousins.
Governor Kim Reynolds ordered all flags in Iowa to fly at half-staff from sunrise to sunset Saturday to honor Arickx.