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Navy sailor from Mandan killed at Pearl Harbor finally laid to rest

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A Navy sailor from Mandan who died in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II is finally home.

The remains of Navy Fireman 2nd Class Albert Renner, 24, weren't identified for nearly eight decades, until the military disinterred and examined the remains of unknown soldiers from Pearl Harbor who were buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

Renner's family held a funeral for him Friday at Christ the King Catholic Church in Mandan, and his remains were then laid to rest in the North Dakota Veterans Cemetery south of the city in a military service attended by family members and dozens of others. It originally had been slated for May but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The ceremony included members of the North Dakota Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group. Local pilots flew two World War II-era North American AT-6 planes overhead. A bugler played taps, and a military color guard fired a gun salute.

Navy representatives presented an American flag to brother Ed Renner, 99, one of 15 Renner siblings. He traveled from Milwaukee to pay his respects, and said he found the observance "beyond words."

"It's hard to get my head around the respect they showed him," he said after the ceremony. "It was difficult to comprehend."

Albert Renner grew up and lived in Mandan in the early 1900s. During the war he was assigned to the battleship USS West Virginia, which was moored at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when it was targeted by Japanese airplanes during the infamous surprise attack.

The ship was hit by two bombs and at least seven torpedoes and sank, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command. Albert Renner was killed along with 105 other crewmen.

Siblings provided DNA to the military in the mid-1990s in the hopes of helping identify their late brother's remains, but it didn't happen until last fall. Scientists used dental records and anthropological analysis, several types of DNA analysis, and circumstantial and material evidence to identify Albert Renner’s remains.

There was even evidence of a shoulder injury from when young Albert Renner fell off a cart during the 1930s, according to brother Dennis Renner, 70, of Mandan. Officials believe Albert Renner was below deck when he suffered a fatal head injury during the attack.

The Navy provided the family with a packet of pictures, enlistment papers and other documents. The military also covered nearly all costs associated with the funeral.

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