The remains of an Everett native who was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor will be interred Wednesday with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, in a solemn rite that one relative said will bring sorrow but also pride for a man who “gave his life for the rest of us.”
“My mother had his flag that the Navy had given the family,” said Tim Sova, 59, the nephew of Navy Radioman 3rd Class Howard W. Bean, who was 27 when he died in the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack by Japan. “I can remember my brothers and I learning how to fold it properly. That’s the earliest memory I have of my uncle Howard. . . . I know my mother would be super-happy that he’s being returned back here to the East Coast.”
The ceremony was scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Bean will be buried one day before the 76th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, which killed more than 2,403 service members and civilians, including 429 crewmen on the USS Oklahoma, Bean’s vessel.
“The USS Oklahoma sustained multiple torpedo hits, which caused it to quickly capsize,” the Defense Department said.
For decades, Bean’s remains were unidentified and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, the Defense Department said in a statement.
“In October 1949, a military board classified those who could not be identified as non-recoverable, including Bean,” the release said.
But advances in DNA technology prompted the military to begin exhuming the remains in 2015 in an effort to identify them. Eventually, the remains of Bean were confirmed after a painstaking process.
Analysts relied on family dental comparisons and other circumstantial evidence in addition to DNA, the statement said.
Sova said the ceremony will be somewhat bittersweet since his late mother, Howard’s sister Marion, cannot attend.
“My mother would always, on Pearl Harbor day, say something about her brother,” Sova said. “So we always, at least every year on Pearl Harbor day, would remember him.”
He said he and his siblings would marvel at their uncle’s Purple Heart when they were growing up. And the family legacy lives on through Sova’s son, Timothy, who served in the Marines during the second Iraq war.
“He was pretty proud of his uncle,” Sova said of his son, who’s now a Massachusetts state trooper. “I can remember him looking at the Purple Heart.”
Sova’s grandson, Mathieu Pastagal, is an active-duty Marine.
News of Bean’s identification was welcomed by George Hursey, a 97-year-old Brockton resident who was attached to the Army artillery on Oahu at the time of the attack.
“I am so happy for the relatives,” Hursey said. “The relatives certainly deserve it. He deserves it. I’m happy for somebody.”
Hursey, who told the Globe last year that he and his comrades “did what we trained for” in responding to the air raid, said Tuesday that he now lives without fear, and he urged younger Americans to be thankful for their freedoms.
“I was scared then, now I don’t give a damn,” Hursey said. “One thing, don’t be scared. You’re in America, and there’s no better place in the world. With all the tragedy in the world, there’s somebody around to help you out. Just be thankful you’re living right here. Don’t cry about anything.”
More than 400,000 Americans died during World War II, including nearly 73,000 who remain unaccounted for, according to military statistics. About 26,000 of those casualties are classified as possibly recoverable, the release said.
“Bean’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Punchbowl, along with the others who are missing from WWII,” the statement said. “A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.”
Sova is thrilled by the development, even if he’ll have mixed emotions during the ceremony.
“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of sorrow that we never got a chance to meet him,” he said. “But in the same respect, there’s going to be a lot of respect for the guy. . . . We’ll all be proud that he gave his life for the rest of us.”
He also believes his uncle’s heroism will resonate with the public.
“I feel it should be shared with everyone,” Sova said.Brian MacQuarrie of the Globe Staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.