The remains of a Kansas soldier who was killed in a bombing mission in 1943 during World War II came back home on Memorial Day.
According to U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, after 16 years of working with the Domer family, the remains of World War II Sergeant Carol Eugene Domer were presented to his surviving family at Nemaha County Veterans’ Memorial in Seneca.
Sgt. Domer was killed in action during WWII off the coast of Papua New Guinea when his crew had to ditch their B-24 Liberator plane while returning from a bombing mission on January 1, 1943.
The Domer family first contacted Moran in December of 2003 to help discover the remains of Sgt. Domer and hopefully have him returned to Kansas. Over the course of the next couple of years they stayed in contact with Moran providing information regarding recovery efforts for Sgt. Domer.
In 2005 the Army was able to survey the crash site to determine whether recovery was possible.
After years of working with the Army, Ken Domer and his family, the underwater investigation of the wreckage was finally scheduled for early 2013. However, they were later informed the water in the surrounding area was not accurately chartered, hindering the boats’ ability to investigate for the wreckage. As a result, the investigative team had to forego the planned activity.
In early 2015, Moran contacted the office of the Secretary of Defense to advocate for Sgt. Domer’s case and learned that efforts were being made to coordinate with the Navy regarding the navigability of the waters to assess the mission. During this process, Ken Domer was also working with Pacific Wrecks, a non-governmental organization and had discovered Sgt. Domer’s plane in 2000 and completed a dive to the plane in 2002.
Now that they had an exact location, Moran met with the Director of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the agency in charge of recovering our fallen servicemember’s remains, to see to it that the investigative mission of Sgt. Domer’s crash site would occur as planned in 2016.
The investigative mission took place in January 2016, followed by a recovery mission in November. In 2017, the recovery mission findings were shared with the Domer family and Moran’s office, which included a picture of a signet ring that was found on the ocean floor.
They requested the ring be returned to Sgt. Domer’s family, and Moran met with the DPAA Director again to submit an official request to return the ring to Kansas. The family was able to locate a photograph of Sgt. Domer wearing the ring right before he was deployed to the Pacific. Following the proper approvals and this evidence connecting Sgt. Domer to the ring, the ring was delivered to the family last year.
On February 28th, 2020, Moran flew an American flag in Sgt. Domer’s honor over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his 100th birthday. That flag was presented, with the ring, to the family during the memorial service.
Moran concluded that after sixteen years of work to bring Sgt. Domer’s remains back home to Kansas, he is grateful to have the opportunity to present his family with this ring and honor his ultimate sacrifice during WWII.
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Photos courtesy of Ken Domer via Senator Jerry Moran’s Office.