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Found at last: WWII signalman laid to rest after going unidentified for 80 years.

World War II Navy Signalman Third Class Austin Henry Hesler was laid to rest at Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery Friday, nearly 80 years after he perished in the attack on Pearl Harbor, his remains unidentifiable for decades until a recent DNA test helped reunite him with family.

“It’s very touching,” said Katherine Ayala, Hesler’s great-niece, at the memorial service. “It’s wonderful ... I can come visit and know where he’s at. We’ll come every year.”

According to a press release from the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services, Hesler was 21 years old when his ship, the USS Oklahoma, was hit by a torpedo on December 7, 1941.

Hesler was killed in the attack along with 429 crewmen. The ship was recovered in 1944. In 2015, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency embarked on a project to re-examine the National Cemetery of the Pacific unidentified remains with DNA testing. DPAA confirmed it identified Hesler’s remains on Feb. 24, 2021.

More information in today's feature. 

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Cochise College hosts first Cinco de Mayo event

@Cochise College hosted its first districtwide Cinco de Mayo event on May 4. The event featured presentations on the history of the holiday — the Mexican forces’ victory over the French imperial army in la Batalla de Puebla in 1862 — along with live dance performances from Douglas Unified School District and Alma Dolores International Dance Centre.

The Herald/Review sat down with event organizer and Cochise College Spanish instructor Jessamyn Snider to learn more about the inspiration behind this year’s event.

Herald/Review: Can you give me a rundown about why Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico and why it’s sometimes misunderstood to be an “independence day” celebration?

Jessamyn Snider: Cinco de Mayo is a commemoration of la Batalla de Puebla, the Battle of Puebla in 1862. This battle was between Mexican forces and the French imperial army.

The Mexicans were the underdog as they were greatly outnumbered and out-equipped. The Mexicans were victorious in this battle, but the French occupation of Mexico lasted until 1867.

The victory was important not only to Mexico, but also other countries throughout Latin America as it was a beacon of hope in a world struggling between monarchy and democracy and was instrumental in curbing French occupation in the Americas.

Interested in learning more? Check out our coverage HERE

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