ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - As millions of Americans remember and mourn the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor Friday, the anniversary is particularly notable for one Albuquerque family.
Seventy-seven years after Racheli Bauer’s uncle was killed in the attack, his remains have finally been identified.
“I held out hope,” said Bauer.
For decades, generations of Racheli’s family never knew if they’d find out what exactly happened to their relative Dante Sylvester Tini.
A third class Navy radioman on board the U.S.S. Oklahoma, Tini was killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was 19-years old.
Tini was Racheli Bauer’s uncle. His remains were never identified following the attack.
Following Pearl Harbor, the government collected the remains of the unknown, burying them at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly referred to as “the Punchbowl.”
Bauer never met her uncle Dante but heard her mom's stories about him while growing up.
“She talked about him all the time, he did fantastic things, he played hockey," said Bauer. “He taught himself to play the accordion.”
Bauer also remembers the effect Dante's death and missing remains had on her family.
“I can't help thinking of all the pain and sadness and sorrow and depression my family went through,” said Bauer.
Bauer says her mother and grandmother always hoped Dante would be found.
“She took a picture of him that she had and she gave it to my mother and she said this, ‘they tell us it's a not a good chance, but I know in my heart before you die, they will find him,’ she said this to my mother,” said Bauer.
Three years ago, the Navy exhumed remains from the Punchbowl in an effort to identify the unknown with new DNA testing technology.
Months after the recovery, the government asked for Racheli's DNA.
“But they said don't hold out hope,” said Bauer.
It took another three years before Bauer’s DNA meant something. In August 2018, Racheli got the call that Dante's remains were identified.
Seventy-seven years after his death in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Tini’s identification finally fulfills a promise that Racheli’s family, her grandmother and mother never let go of.
“And I held out hope because they both said that, so, I said before I die, I'm holding out hope, I don't care what the Navy says, they'll find him,” said Bauer.
Tini will be laid to rest with full honors in a Navy funeral ceremony next year during Memorial Day Weekend. He'll be buried next to his parents in his birth town of Virginia, Minnesota.