Ensign “Francis” Flaherty, USNR, died on Dec. 7 aboard the USS Oklahoma when he was 22 years old during Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor and received the Medal of Honor posthumously, the U.S. Naval History and Command’s website reads.
Ensign Francis C. Flaherty, USNR (U.S. Naval History and Command)
Flaherty “remained in a gun turret holding a flashlight to permit others in the turret to see in order to escape” as the Oklahoma capsized, according to the Naval History and Command.
Flaherty’s remains were buried on Aug. 21 in his birthplace, Charlotte, Michigan. He was born in 1919, and his remains were discovered 100 years later in 2019, The Lansing State Journal first reported.
Republican Michigan state Reps. Julie Alexander and Sarah Lightner escorted Pearl Harbor veteran Herb Elfring, 99, to the ceremony for Flaherty, according to Facebook posts from the state lawmakers.
“What an honor to feel the admiration and respect with a procession being led by hundreds of American Legion riders, lined streets of patriots, and proud Michigan families of all ages showing their appreciation with hats held over their hearts, veterans saluting and families proudly waving flags,” Alexander wrote.
She added that the “Navy F-18 flyover in missing man formation at the end of the graveside service will be one” she never forgets.
“Francis Flaherty died trying to protect and save his shipmates during the attack on Pearl Harbor,” the Department of Veterans Affairs wrote in a Monday Facebook post following the weekend ceremony.
Flaherty’s family, Sharron and John Flaherty, told local NBC affiliate WILX that “there’s no better resting place” for the WWII veteran “than his home town [sic].” They described “goosebumps and tears” and “love” as they buried Flaherty.
“I’ve never seen so much love in my life,” Sharron and John told the outlet. “We’re happy to bring him home.”