Pasadena's John Karli, Who Perished Aboard U.S.S. Oklahoma, Celebrated at Home for His Sacrifice 78 Years Ago on Pearl Harbor Day

Published : Saturday, December 7, 2019 | 6:35 AM

Marilyn Long the niece and David Snyder the nephew of U.S. Navy Seaman 1st Class John Albert Karli pay their respects at a picture of their uncle during Karli's May, 2019 funeral. Photography by James Carbone.

December 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, is a day that the one Pasadena family will never forget. It is the day U.S. Navy Seaman First Class John Albert Karli was killed.

The beloved serviceman who left for World War II and was never seen again by his loved ones will finally pass his first Pearl Harbor anniversary close to his family after his remains were finally returned home to Pasadena and buried, with honors, last May.

Karli, a baseball standout at Pasadena Community College and Muir High School, was killed aboard the USS Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on Dec. 7, 1941.

And after more than 78 years, Karli’s remains were interred at Mountain View Cemetery last May.

U.S. Navy Seaman First Class John Albert Karli, who graduated from John Muir High School in 1940, will pass his first Pearl Harbor anniversary close to his family today, after his remains were finally returned home to Pasadena and buried, with honors, last May. Images courtesy Mountain View Cemetary.

“Anyone who knows the family can understand they’re feeling better knowing he’s resting with his parents and he’s with his family,” said Mountain View Funeral Director Denny Dermody. “It’s been a long journey but he’s home.”

Karli was the child of Swiss and Swedish immigrants, and he was born on the Henry E. Huntington’s estate in San Marino. It’s where his father worked as a gardener.

When the family later moved to Pasadena, Karli attended Muir High School, from which he graduated in 1940. After high school, Karli went to San Diego to report to the Navy and he was stationed aboard the ill-fated Oklahoma. The ship suffered the second-highest number of deaths in the attack, according to reports.

It took 78 years to retrieve Karli’s remains, which were identified only recently through use of DNA samples. Karli’s family members had submitted samples and with advancements in the field, scientists could make the connection. Karli was given a military welcome home last May 2.

It is an appropriate home for a serviceman, Dormody said.

“Every day is remembrance day with all of the veterans who rest here,” Dormody said.

Mountain View is the resting place of more than 700 Union soldiers, 72 Confederate soldiers, and Vietnam soldiers. In addition, there are Spanish-American War Veterans, Korean War and World War I and World War II veterans at Mountain View.

So Karli is not alone as far as military people laid to rest at the cemetery.

“Imagine that this young man went off to serve his country, his parents had died in the interim and now he is buried beside his parents here,” Dormody said. “It was probably a very tough for the family. But they have closure now. Our purpose has been to help heal their broken hearts.”

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