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Pearl Harbor Hero Returns to Dubuque 75 Years Later

schmittcollage.JPG
Loras College
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Schmitt with his personal belongings on display

75 years after he died in World War II, a Navy chaplain will return to his home in eastern Iowa. Friday, Loras College in Dubuque will hold a vigil for Father Aloysius Schmitt.

Schmitt graduated from Loras in 1932. And died while serving on the battleship USS Oklahoma, during the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy says he helped 12 people make it to safety before he died.  

Years after the attack, Schmitt was buried with hundreds of unidentified sailors and Marines. It wasn't until a half-century later that the US Department of Defense started digging up the caskets and doing DNA testing. And, just last month, Schmitt's body was identified. 

Friday, Loras College will hold a vigil and funeral service at its Christ the King Chapel, which was built as a memorial to Schmitt. And he will be buried in Dubuque on Saturday. 

Schmitt was the great-uncle of Steve Sloan, a member of the Loras College Board of Regents. Even though they never met, Sloan says relatives and veterans have always said "he was a gentle, soft spoken person, who had a great, witty sense of humor."