OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – An American hero has reached his final resting place, more than 80 years after his death in Pearl Harbor on the U.S.S. Oklahoma.

Several members of Private Waldean Black’s family greeted him in Oklahoma City as his journey home continued. 

“It’s unbelievable, the respect of the military for someone that served 81 years ago,” said Rusty Barfield, a relative of Pvt. Black. “I think that’s the biggest reminder here today, it’s the sacrifice. It’s not free.”

Private Waldean Black landed in Oklahoma City Tuesday morning – nearing the end of his final journey – with a hero’s welcome. 

Private Waldean Black

“For the Marine Corps., that’s very important to honor those that came before us,” said Capt. Mark Giado, Battery F, 2nd Bn., 14th Marines.  

Pvt. Black – a Perryton, Texas, native – was in Pearl Harbor, onboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma that fateful day, December 7th, 1941. 

Rescue crews work on the upturned hull of the 29,000 ton battleship USS Oklahoma December 8, 1941. The ship capsized after being blasted by Japanese warplanes December 7, 1941. Holes were burned through the hull to permit the rescue of some of the men trapped below. Credit: Library of Congress Source: US Navy
Rescue crews work on the upturned hull of the 29,000 ton battleship USS Oklahoma December 8, 1941. The ship capsized after being blasted by Japanese warplanes December 7, 1941. Holes were burned through the hull to permit the rescue of some of the men trapped below. Credit: Library of Congress Source: US Navy

On Christmas Day, his parents Tyson and Mattie Jean Black received word their son was missing.  

Days later, they learned of his death.  

“It’s a reminder of the ultimate sacrifice of individuals that it takes to maintain our freedom in our country,” Barfield said.  

His remains weren’t identified until December of 2018. 

It’s been a long time coming, but he’s finally headed home to be buried next to his parents.  

“It’s nice to see some finality,” said Kevin McGarraugh, a relative of Black. “He’s coming home.” 

After almost a century, he’s finally reunited with family who may not have known him personally – but know deeply the impact he had on his country and his loved ones.  

“I grew up to listening to my grandmother tell stories and she had a really hard time with the way that he passed,” McGarraugh said. “I wish she was here to see it and that’s why I’m here. I’m here for her, mainly.” 

This Thursday, a full military burial will be held in Perryton for Private Black.