CHARLOTTE, MI. (WLNS)—American flags waved as a welcome home for sailor Francis Flaherty, with a caravan of Legion Riders leading the way.
“It’s the least we can do for a man who gave his life you know for this country and for the respect to him and his family,” said Director of the Legion Riders, John Potter.
On December 7th, 1941, Flaherty sacrificed his life to save others during the attack on pearl harbor. The ship he was on—the USS Oklahoma was sinking, and orders were to abandon ship, but Flaherty remained, firing back at Japanese planes while holding a flashlight that allowed others to escape, an act of bravery that cost him his life, and because of his sacrifice he was awarded the medal of honor.
However, for nearly 80 years his remains were unidentified until scientists stepped in. His family received a call from the MIA Accounting Agency–saying they identified his remains and could be sent home for a proper ceremony.
“The family was contacted by the Navy and we decided that there’s no better resting place than his hometown,” said family member, John Flaherty.
John Flaherty is Francis’s nephew. He was born just a month after the attack. He says seeing all the support today left him overwhelmed with emotion.
“Goosebumps and tears.”
For others like Herb Elfring– who was there during the attacks on that tragic December day, today was both a hard and proud moment.
“Just the fact that it was a man that gave his life for doing what he could to save other sailors,” said World War Two Veteran and Pearl Harbor survivor, Herb Elfring.
But they weren’t just sailors, they were husbands, brothers, fathers, and friends. Now, hundreds are thanking him as he made his way back home.
“Happy to see them all. It just shows how much respect there is out there for a medal of honor recipient you know and everybody wants to be there to honor that man,” said Potter.
With a final gunshot in tribute, the folding of the flag, and one last salute his family received a final moment of closure.