New Jersey WWII sailor returned home for military funeral

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Naval Support Activity Philadelphia Funeral Honors Detail carry the casket containing Navy Fireman 1st Class Angelo M. Gabriele at Washington Crossing National Cemetery. Gabriele, 21, was killed in action aboard the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-43) during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Gabriele was identified 77 years later through DNA analysis with the help of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and returned home to his family. (Navy photograph by PO2 Anthony Flynn)

Fireman 1st Class Angelo Michael Gabriele, killed in action during the Dec. 7, 1941 attacks on Pearl Harbor, was buried at Washington Crossing National Cemetery, June 24 — receiving full military funeral honors from Sailors assigned to Naval Support Activity Philadelphia.

“[Gabriele] was a member of the greatest generation that made the greatest sacrifice,” said Rear Adm. John Schommer, deputy commander, U.S. Fourth Fleet. “It is a true honor to bring him here near his home for this final resting place.”

The 21-year-old from Trenton, New Jersey was aboard the battleship USS West Virginia (BB-43) when enemy-torpedoes struck the moored ship resulting in his death along with 105 of his shipmates.

Rear Adm. John Schommer presents a folded flag to a nephew of Navy Fireman 1st Class Angelo M. Gabriele during his funeral at Washington Crossing National Cemetery. (Navy photograph by PO2 Anthony Flynn)

“He joined the Navy to learn a trait, and served his country to support his family,” said Peter DiPietro, Gabriele’s nephew. “We are appreciative of the Navy for never giving up on bringing him home.”

Recent efforts by scientists from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System positively identified a number of remains that were interred as “unknowns” at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

Once identified, Gabriele was flown to Philadelphia International Airport where Sailors rendered planeside honors then served as the funeral honors detail on the day of his burial.

“This was a special moment in my career,” said Aviation Support Equipment Technician Airman Joseph Rogan, “You learn so much about the sacrifices our shipmates made all those years ago; being a part of [Gabriele’s] service really made it all come full circle.”

Gabriele is survived by four nephews, two great nieces and a great nephew.

Naval Support Activity Philadelphia’s mission is to provide an operationally ready, secure shore infrastructure committed to the quality of life to military members, civilian staffs and the community.