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The Times
  • Recently found remains of World War II veteran coming home to Frankfort

  • A gravesite marked for Dominick Licari at the Mount Olivet Cemetery has been vacant for decades.

    Flowers from his family and friends have been planted, dug up and planted again without a trace of his remains in the family plot.

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  • A gravesite marked for Dominick Licari at the Mount Olivet Cemetery has been vacant for decades.
    Flowers from his family and friends have been planted, dug up and planted again without a trace of his remains in the family plot.
    Now, Sgt. Dominick Licari, declared killed in action in World War II, finally can be put to rest.
    Licari’s remains — bone fragments and dog tags — have been repatriated by the U.S. Casualty Recovery Team in New Guinea, where the A-20G Havoc Bomber on which Licari was a gunner crashed. They will be flown back to the area in the coming weeks.
    “There was the period in which we didn’t know what happened to him,” said August “Mort” Licari, 86, from Summerfield, Fla., Dominick’s only living brother. “All we know now is that he’s on his way back to us.”
    Dominick Licari, born Oct. 18, 1912, was drafted into the war in 1942, taking him away from playing baseball in the village and using his carpentry skills in constructing Griffiss Air Force Base. That was the last time his family, his father, Sam, and his seven brothers and sisters, saw him.
    “At the time, everybody’s brother was being drafted,” Mort Licari said. “We didn’t realize what that meant until the war started.”
    In 1944, Dominick Licari went missing — his plane and two others flying from a mission never returned to their base in northeastern New Guinea. After two years of searches, the military officially presumed Licari to be dead, along with pilot 2nd Lt. Valorie Pollard.
    Those would not be the last attempts to locate the missing soldiers. Three separate attempts in nearly 30 years, from 1989 to 2008, would discover the wreckage of the bomber that crashed into the mountainside amid overgrown jungles and rain-washed soil, but no remains, according to military documents obtained from the family.
    It wasn’t until the spring of 2012 that 14 bone samples were recovered from the since-excavated site. Mort Licari received a call saying they had found remains in the same area of his brother’s crash, and wanted to try to match those against his own DNA. He said he’d certainly try and submitted seven swabs with his genetics.
    It was a match.
    “Without that DNA bank, I doubt very much that they would have identified my brother’s remains,” he said.
    Throughout the 67 years since Dominick was declared dead, Mort said he always held out hope that someone would find his brother, though it was hard.
    Funeral and memorial services are tentatively being scheduled for Monday, Aug. 5, and Tuesday, Aug. 6, depending on when the remains will be flown from Hawaii to New York.
    Mort Licari said he is, and will be, anxious until Dominick’s remains are placed at Mount Olivet with the rest of the family.
    Page 2 of 2 - “It was my father’s wish for all of us to be there,” Mort said. “If and when (Dominick) was ever found, he’d be returned to the family plot.”
    Michele Howgate, an Observer-Dispatch employee and Dominick Licari’s great niece, has tended the Licaris’ plots in the Frankfort cemetery since she moved to the area in the mid-1990s. She said the family is relieved to have someone missing for so long returning home.
    “The day we heard Uncle Dominick was coming back, I visited the grave,” he said. “And the flowers looked beautiful.”
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