Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
A U.S. Marine presents a burial flag to the family of Pfc. Alva Jackson “Jack,” Cremean, from left, Jerry and Elaine Holiday, Esther Spradlin, Donna Moren, and Billy Creamer during a burial ceremony 77 years to the day after he was killed in Pearl Harbor.
Cremean is laid to rest
A flag-draped casket helped a Madera family welcome their loved one home from World War II.
More than 200 people gathered to commemorate the life and death of Marine Corps. Pfc. Alva Jackson “Jack,” Cremean on Friday. The full military honor service occurred in The Arbor of Arbor Vitae Cemetery with a 21-gun salute, bagpiper and ceremonies officiated by Chaplain Lt. Janet Clarke, U.S. Navy, of Lemoore Naval Station. Earl Meyers provided the a capella singing of the Marine Corps anthem in honor of his service. Just prior to the service, a pair of vintage P17 Stearman bi-planes piloted by Bill Hoffrage and Tim Hawkins flew a salute over the cemetery.
Pfc. Cremean was killed Dec. 7, 1941, while serving aboard the USS Oklahoma at Ford Island, Pearl Harbor. During bombing by Japenese planes, the Oklahoma suffered multiple torpedo hits, causing it to capsize. There were 429 sailors and marines lost including Pfc. Cremean.
His remains along with many others were unidentified and buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
In 2001, his sister Ruth Medill supplied a sample of her DNA to assist the Department of Defense identify his remains.
The family has been waiting all these years for his homecoming. His mother, Marguerite “Peggy,” Cremean, died before she was able to see her son come home.
“She waited all those years for her son to come home,” said his niece and her granddaughter Elaine Holiday of Madera.
“They had their reunion (in Heaven) and she knows he’s home now. She is here with us.”
Members of Cremean’s family attended the services. Surviving family includes brother-in-law Willis Creamer, niece and nephews Donna Moren nee Creamer, nephews Tom, Billy and David Creamer all of Madera and their families, and niece Esther Spradlin of Utah, who is Holiday’s sister.
Holiday and Spradlin’s mother provided the DNA sample used to identify their uncle.
Following the ceremonies, the folding of the flag that draped his casket by three young Marines, two men and a woman in full dress uniform, and was presented to the family. He is interred in the Arbor Vitae veterans section. His parents, William, Peggy, and sister Joan Cremean, who died in childhood are also buried at Arbor Vitae.
Many members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion paid their respects along with the members of the Madera Cemetery District Board of Trustees. Maurice Cappelluti, Jim Harper, Candy Talley, Lois Betty, David Nemeth and executive director Belva Bare attended.
The Arbor and surrounding area were festooned with American flags for the occasion. Several copies of the December 1941 newspapers, The Evening Star of Washington DC, were on display. Headlines such as “Congress Declares War with one dissenting vote,” offered a connection to the sentiment and climate of the times.
The newspapers were collected and saved by Lucille Jans. She and her husband Harold Jans were both in the navy at the time of the bombing. They were the aunt and uncle of Belva Bare. When her aunt died, it fell to Bare to disperse her possessions. These newspapers were part of her effects and Bare had them framed in the 1980s to preserve them.
“I had these in the rafters and thought what a great opportunity to display and share them,” Bear said.
Seventy-seven years to the day after he was, killed, Pfc. Jack Cremean is finally home from the war.