ST. LUCAS, Iowa — The remains of a Navy chaplain have been returned to his home in Iowa nearly 75 years after he died during the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Chaplain Aloysius Schmitt was aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941, attack. Schmitt was among a group of sailors who discovered a small porthole as the ship was filling with water, the Telegraph Herald ( ) reported. Schmitt had the chance to escape but refused and hoisted others through the porthole and out to safety.

The battleship capsized within minutes, and Schmitt became the first chaplain killed during World War II. He was among 429 crew members on the USS Oklahoma who died in the Pearl Harbor attack. The Navy announced in September that Schmitt’s remains had been identified.

A visitation and remembrance was held for the chaplain Wednesday in his hometown of St. Lucas, Iowa, where nearly 100 people gathered. At the gathering, Archdiocese of Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels reflected on the chaplain’s courage.

“Freedom is not free, but purchased with great sacrifice — the ultimate sacrifice,” Jackels said. “His life ended as he lived it, giving himself to others.”

His burial will be held Saturday in Dubuque at Loras College’s Christ the King Chapel.

Information from: Telegraph Herald,

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