Killed in the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack
TRAER — The remains of a U.S. Navy sailor from Traer who died in the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941 are being brought back to Iowa for a funeral Mass and burial.
Services for William Kvidera are scheduled to be held at St. Paul Parish in Traer at 1 p.m., Friday, Nov. 16. Representatives of the Navy are planning to be present to perform full military honors. Fathers Michael O. Hutchison is scheduled to concelebrate the Mass with other members of the clergy.
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced recently that the Navy Carpenter’s Mate 3rd Class, 22, was accounted for on July 3.
On Dec. 7, 1941, Kvidera was assigned to the battleship USS Oklahoma, which was moored at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, when the ship was attacked by Japanese aircraft. The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize. The attack on the ship resulted in the deaths of 429 crewmen, including Kvidera, according to the Department of Defense.
Serviceman Kvidera served on the same ship and died the same day as Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt, 32, a native of St. Lucas. The first chaplain to die in World War II was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Dubuque before joining the Navy. His remains were returned to Iowa in October 2016 and are buried at Loras College in Dubuque.
Both Kvidera and Father Schmitt’s remains were identified as the result of a lengthy and complex process that utilized advanced scientific testing. A press release from the U.S. Department of Defense explained how it unfolded:
“From December 1941 to June 1944, Navy personnel recovered the remains of the deceased crew, which were subsequently interred in the Halawa and Nu’uanu Cemeteries.
“In September 1947, tasked with recovering and identifying fallen U.S. personnel in the Pacific Theater, members of the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS) disinterred the remains of U.S. casualties from the two cemeteries and transferred them to the Central Identification Laboratory at Schofield Barracks. The laboratory staff was only able to confirm the identifications of 35 men from the USS Oklahoma at that time. The AGRS subsequently buried the unidentified remains in 46 plots at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu. In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Kvidera.
“In April 2015, the Deputy Secretary of Defense issued a policy memorandum directing the disinterment of unknowns associated with the USS Oklahoma. On June 15, 2015, DPAA personnel began exhuming the remains from the Punchbowl for analysis.
“To identify Kvidera’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and Y-chromosome (Y-STR) DNA analysis, dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence.”
Kvidera’s name is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for, according to the Department of Defense.
More coverage of Kvidera’s funeral Mass and burial will be in a future issue of The Witness.
Cover photo: U.S. Navy sailors who were part of the military honor guard that accompanied Chaplain Al Schmitt’s remains are shown standing during his funeral ceremonies in 2016. The chaplain died in the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. His remains were returned to Iowa after being identified. His funeral Mass was held at Christ the King Chapel at Loras College where he is now buried.
Second photo: Traer native William Kvidera is pictured.