Detroit Navy vet lost at sea in Pearl Harbor has remains identified with DNA, will be buried

Irvin Franklin Rice was a 22-year-old Detroit Sailor – Navy Radioman Third Class aboard the USS Oklahoma when the battleship was torpedoed and capsized on December 7, 1941.

On board, 429 crew members were killed – including Rice. But his remains were only recently identified using DNA and now this sailor is finally laid to rest.

“A celebration of life – it’s an honor to be able to be part of living history,” said Matthew Rak. “80 years ago, Pearl Harbor, and then we can finally bring it home.”

Rak, a funeral director and Marine, was honored to lead Irvin Rice’s service at Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley on Saturday afternoon.

The spot where Rice’s parents placed her headstone years ago – reading “Lost in Action at Pearl Harbor”.

“I think what was near and dear to the heart of the family is that we bring him home,” Rak said.

“Modern DNA allowed us to identify this man – to bring him home – so that his family could be closed,” Bill Isenhour said.

Irvin Rice’s headstone read Lost In Action at Pearl Harbor.

Isenhour is the commanding officer of Berkley American Legion Post 374.

“He has a cousin who is now over 90 and she remembers Rice,” he said. “It will be a closure for her – and with the military – we leave no one behind.”

And so many veterans organizations will be present for this historic occasion. Michigan State Police and the Patriot Guard will escort the funeral procession.

Berkley and Royal Oak firefighters will place a flag at the entrance to the cemetery.

“For us personally – to be able to participate – it’s a great honour,” said Royal Oak Fire Deputy Chief Jim Cook. “What he did for us – he sacrificed his life. So to be able to repay that – it gives me chills.”

The cortege will leave the Livonia Funeral Home and travel up I-275 to I-696 to Woodward Avenue. People are asked to pay their respects – line Woodward Avenue to 12 Mile Cemetery – to pay their respects.

“A parade – he didn’t get his victory parade – we’re going to give it to him now,” Rak said.

Irvin Franklin Rice

And Matthew Rak wants us all to be a part of it – so bring your flag and start queuing along Woodward around 1pm – they plan to arrive at the cemetery between 1:45pm and 2pm.

“Flags – American flags, navy flags, POW-MIA flags – because he’s been missing for 80 years,” Rak said. “We want everyone to come out – everyone and everyone, to be a part of history and celebrate coming home.”

All are also invited to attend the ceremony at the cemetery.

“Welcome home, sailor,” said Isenhour.

Radioman Third Class Irvin Rice will be buried with full military honours.