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US Navy Pearl Harbor hero finally laid to rest, after remains found 81 years later

Eighty-one years ago, Gebser was killed on the USS Oklahoma when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

SAN DIEGO — Family members thought U.S. Navy Pearl Harbor hero Paul Gebser's remains would never be found and he would never receive a proper burial, but after years of uncertainty Gebser is finally back home and has been laid to rest at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery.

"My family has waited 81 years for this moment," said Paul Beahan, Paul Gebser's nephew. 

Eighty-one years ago, Gebser was killed on the USS Oklahoma when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

Since then, his body was never recovered.

"He was 100% dedicated to serving his country. His father and mother were German immigrants per World War I. They were such patriots and happy to be out of Germany. He had a passion for serving his country," said Beahan.

Gebser has a headstone at Mount Hope Cemetery since his family feared his remains would never be found.

However, that all changed when his nephew and native San Diegan, Behan, received a phone call from the U.S. Navy 11 years ago telling him they may have found his grand uncle’s remains.

They did a DNA test and eight years later determined it was a match.

"And of course during COVID, we had to postpone it to 2022 so that’s today. Growing up, I always heard stories of my Uncle and I'm named after him. It gives me a sense of pride that we are chosen ones to do this. It also makes me sad that my grandparents who suffered this loss aren’t able to see him put to rest. I know they are watching from far away," said Beahan.

Nearly 20 family members and friends gathered at Rosecrans National Cemetery, where Gebser received military funeral honors. Gebser, a man who served the country and paid the ultimate sacrifice has finally laid to rest.

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