Atkinson’s sailor finally home | New


ATKINSON – It took Louis Tushla nearly 80 years to travel from the deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean to the sandy soil of the Nebraska prairie. He spent most of those years among other sailors buried in the Pacific National Memorial Cemetery in Honolulu.

Back in Atkinson, his parents, Peter and Susan, siblings and friends waited for the 25-year-old to come home.

It finally arrived on Saturday.

Peter and Susan Tushla weren’t there to greet their son, and neither were his siblings. Undoubtedly, devout Catholics were reunited with their son and brother when they too went to their eternal home.

But on Saturday morning, several hundred relatives and friends gathered at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in that Sandhills town to pay their respects to the young man who was one of the 429 crew members of the USS Oklahoma who is died when the ship capsized after suffering several torpedoes. affected during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

It was a solemn but joyful service, filled with prayers, music, and memories of a man many in the congregation had heard of but never met.

This is why Monsignor James Glig – a cousin of Tushla who delivered the homily at the service – described Tushla using photos and letters as a reference.

“Each photo shows him wearing his Navy uniform. It shows his pride and joy (to be in the Navy),” Gilg said.

In a letter to his sister, he described the engine room of the ship, where he worked. We need to keep the engines in “first class shape,” he wrote.

Gilg described the “blue-eyed and brown-eyed” boy as a hard worker who helped the family grow and sell the fruits and vegetables for which they were well known. He also helped build his sister’s house in town and dated “pretty girls,” Gilg said.

The Bishop’s message also compared Tushla’s sacrifice to the sacrifice Jesus made for his children by dying on the cross to save them from their sins.

“Jesus tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends,” said Gilg. “Jesus gave his life for us, so we must give our life for others.”

“It’s always a tragedy when a young life is ripped off,” Gilg continued. “We can easily be overcome with sorrow and despair. But there is nothing more honorable than to imitate Jesus and lay down your life for another.”

After the service, Tushla’s flag-draped casket was carried by members of the Atkinson American Legion to the waiting hearse which brought it a short distance from St. Joseph’s Cemetery. There, surrounded by members of many veterans organizations, his family and friends, Tushla was buried next to his parents and near a memorial marker in memory of his brother, 1st. Lieutenant Harold Tushla, a navigator on a B-24D who went missing in February 1943 during a bombing mission over Naples, Italy. The aircraft and the bodies of the crew were never found.

After Gilg shared prayers and words of comfort, three volleys erupted in the still morning air and bangs echoed on the surrounding gravestones. A Navy honor guard removed and folded the flag from the coffin and handed it to family members, and Louis Tushla was finally home.