DUBUQUE, Iowa — The remains of a Navy chaplain have been buried in his home state of Iowa nearly 75 years after he died during the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
A funeral was held for Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt in Dubuque on Saturday. Separate ceremonies were held in his hometown of St. Lucas earlier in the week.
Schmitt’s niece, Rose Foley, told the Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/2dXtqu1 ) she is very proud of her uncle and what he did.
“He did a lot for his family, he did a lot for his country, and a lot of people are very proud of him,” Foley said.
Schmitt was aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when the Dec. 7, 1941, attack happened. Schmitt helped other sailors escape the sinking ship before he died.
Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels said Schmitt had to fight his basic instincts in order to help others that day.
“Try to imagine the drive for self-preservation that automatically kicks in at such a time,” Jackels said. “And then try to imagine what it would take to deny that impulse out of love for God, love for country, love for others.”
The Navy announced in September that Schmitt’s remains had been identified.
Author Joe Todd, who wrote a book about the USS Oklahoma, remembered hearing about Schmitt when he talked to dozens of surviving crew members.
“When I asked crew members about Schmitt, they all said, ‘He was the finest man I ever met,'” Todd said.
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com