70 years after Pearl Harbor, a Homecoming
Knights in Guam honor a long-lost sailor finally laid to rest
Fourth-degree Knights from three Guam assemblies recently honored a Chamorro sailor killed in World War II whose remains were finally being laid to rest in his homeland.
Steward First Class Ignacio Camacho Farfan, just 21 years old at the time, was aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when it was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese aircraft on December 7, 1941, in the first minutes of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was among 429 shipmates who perished that day.
Farfan’s family did not learn of his death until 1945. That’s because the Japanese attacked Guam, which has been a U.S. territory since 1898, a few hours after the assault on Pearl Harbor. By December 10 they had beaten back the small American military presence there, taken control of the Pacific island, and began an occupation that would continue until the Americans returned to defeat the Japanese in July and August of 1944.
Only 35 sets of remains of the deceased from the Oklahoma were identified by 1947, however. The remains of 388 other sailors and Marines were interred as unknowns in Hawaii cemeteries.
In 2015, the unknown remains were exhumed as part of an effort to identify victims using DNA technology. Thus far, more than 100 sets of remains have been identified.
Upon learning that Farfan’s remains would be returned to Guam in November, District Master Frank Flores organized a Fourth Degree honor guard for this returning warrior. Members of Santa Marian Kamalen Assembly 1555, Padre Palomo Assembly 2419, and Archbishop Felixberto C. Flores Assembly 2386 answered the call.
Flores, himself a Chamorro and an avid biker, also marshalled the island’s motorcycle clubs and personally led a hundred-strong “rolling thunder” motorcycle escort of Farfan's remains to his family and his final resting place at Guam Veterans Cemetery in Piti.
Guam Governor Eddie Calvo perhaps articulated the Knights’ sentiments well in his address at the funeral ceremony, which featured full military honors.
“It is now time to celebrate and welcome him home, and to give thanks to him and to so many who’ve paid the ultimate sacrifice for the paradise we live in,” Calvo said of Farfan. “Eternal rest be granted unto Ignacio.”