Remains of WWII soldier identified after 80 years, returns home to the Brazos Valley

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 9:32 PM CDT
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NAVASOTA, Texas (KBTX) - Eighty years after his death, a World War II soldier’s remains returned to the Brazos Valley Thursday.

U.S. Army Air Forces Technical Sgt. Elton Gomillion died in August 1943 when the enemy gunned down the bomber he was aboard and crashed in Romania. Finally, his family was able to welcome home his remains after being identified this past Spring.

“Probably eight, nine years ago, my sister and I were contacted and asked if we would do a DNA test and that they were in the process of trying to relocate remains with their families,” Tech. Sgt. Gomillion’s niece, Ellen Dyer, said.

When his plane was hit, Ellen was just two years old. She still remembers how her mother was impacted by the unknown about her brother.

“I just remember mother going to the post office and looking for a letter,” Ellen said. “Then, at one point, they had a board at the fire station and they would go every day and put names up on the board or take names down so mother would go there every day and look to see if his name was there. It never showed.”

Now, decades later, the remains of Tech. Sgt. Gomillion is home safe at the Nobles Funeral Home in Navasota after receiving a special arrival at Bush International Airport in Houston.

“It was an amazing event,” she said. “It was a happy one in many ways, also sad because our parents were not here to be there, but we had a good group of people that came and supported us.”

It took a lot of work to get the remains back to Texas, but Sgt. First Class Dionel Ortiz Morales says it’s vital to honor the service of these veterans.

“Knowing where you come from, knowing the reason why you live the life that you’re able to live right now, is pretty much because of the act of people like, like Tech. Sgt. Gomillion,” he said.

A funeral service will be held on September 14 in Iola. The service will include full military honors with a flyover and a 21-gun salute.

Following the service, Tech. Sgt. Gomillion’s uniform will be donated to the Museum of the American G.I.

According to information from a U.S. Army Identification Case Manager, on Aug. 1, 1943, the B-24 Liberator bomber on which Gomillion was the engineer was hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire and crashed during Operation TIDAL WAVE, the largest bombing mission against the oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania. His remains were not identified following the war. The remains that could not be identified were buried as Unknowns in the Hero Section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery of Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.