Charlotte — Nearly 80 years after his death, Ensign Francis Flaherty was finally laid to rest in his hometown.
The Charlotte native died during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. He was on the U.S.S. Oklahoma, which was hit several times by torpedoes and began to capsize. Flaherty remained on the ship as others escaped, holding a flashlight so others could find their way out.
His actions meant he was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest honor for military valor in action. And on Saturday, he was honored with a procession through town, a military flyover and a burial at Maple Hill Cemetery.
“His great effort prevented additional loss of life at his own peril,” said Rear Admiral Jeff Spivey, who spoke graveside. “On that day, 429 men died — he prevented it from being perhaps 430.”
Flaherty was initially buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. In 2019, the Navy was able to identify his remains with help from DNA analysis.
His family made the decision to bring Flaherty home to Charlotte, where he was laid to rest between the graves of his parents Francis and Gertrude.