After 75 years, WW2 Vet comes home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

After 75 years, WW2 Vet comes home

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ST. LUCAS (KWWL) -

Friends and family gathering Wednesday for a special memorial mass and vigil for an Iowa veteran killed decades ago.

St. Lucas native, Father Aloysius Schmitt, a Chaplain in the Navy, was killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

When his ship was bombed, Father Schmitt chose to stay behind and help 12 men get out alive, sacrificing his own life.

His remains were only recently identified and brought home earlier this year.

St. Lucas Iowa is home to St. Luke's Parish, the church that nearly a hundred years ago fostered the faith of a man who would go on to save lives, to be a hero, but never return home that is until now.

Father Al Schmitt is hometown hero. He was welcomed with open arms by a community that never though they would get that chance.

At 5-years-old, Del Schmitt remembers his uncle visiting before he left to serve.

"To me, it is just part of your life. You are put on earth to do good and whatever happens to you, happens. You can't relive your life," said Del Schmitt, Father Schmitt's nephew.

Leading the prayer service was Lee Stammeyer , who starting at six years old looked up to a then 18-year-old Father Schmitt.

"My grandmother told Father Al's mother, well, he can come over and play checkers with Lee. So that is what he did. He came over and we played a couple of hours of checkers, as far as that is concerned. We parted best of friends and I didn't make any contact with him again until his first mass in 1935," recalls Lee Stammeyer.

"But I found him to be a very congenial. He always had a smile on his face. I just wanted to be with him, he was just that kind of a guy," said Stammeyer.

 After all these years, finally an ending to a story of a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice to God and his country.

Father Schmitt has one last stop.

Services will be held in Dubuque on Saturday, where they will place Father Schmitt in his final resting place.  

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