Kansas family finds closure with return of WWII vet’s remains

Updated: May. 31, 2021 at 9:17 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - It’s a story decades in the making: a Kansas World War II veteran killed in action finally returned home this Memorial Day.

It’s a journey that started when two paths crossed nearly 20 years ago. “The banker in Spearville, the nephew, we had a conversation one day when I wandered into the bank,” Sen. Moran said. “He happened to be the mayor of Spearville, and ‘oh by the way can you help us.’”

Ken Domer asked Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran to help return his uncle’s remains to Kansas. Sgt. Carol Domer, who fought in World War II, was killed in action off the coast of Papua New Guinea when he was trapped in a submerged aircraft.

Working to help the family find closure, Sen. Moran’s office spent years requesting surveys of the crash site. An investigative dive was finally performed in 2016.

“The divers searched it, the crash site very thoroughly other than the plane nothing was found except a gold ring, a clip of a fountain pin and the sole of a shoe,” Dennis Domer said.

No living family member knew Carol Domer, meaning they weren’t able to identify the remains. At least, not until the Domer Family stumbled upon a certain picture.

“My father took a photo of Carol holding my older brother up in 1942 just before he shipped out, and had it not been for that we never would have gotten this ring,” Dennis Domer said. “It was like a miracle”

Sen. Moran presented the ring to the Domer Family Monday at the Nemaha Co. Veterans Memorial, along with the flag that was flown over the National Capitol on Sgt. Domer’s 100th birthday.

“It just amazes me that a family, many of whom have never met their relative stayed with this for so long and they insisted that every stone be unturned,” Sen. Moran said.

“I took it out and put it on and it fit perfectly as if uncle Carol was saying here you go buddy put it on and I think I’m the only one that did put it on and I’m the only one that it fits,” Dennis Domer said. “Now I’m only doing it for all of the rest but to have the feel of that ring as were as if he was right here.”

Years of Memorial Day services that previously felt empty have new meaning for the Domer Family.

“There never was a closure, we always went home sad, today we’re not only sad but we’re honored, we’re stunned by what has happened and we couldn’t be more grateful,” Dennis Domer said.

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