Soldier laid to rest with full military honors 80 years after death in World War II

KBTX News 3 at Ten(Recurring)
Published: Sep. 14, 2023 at 4:31 PM CDT
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IOLA, Texas (KBTX) - A funeral with full military honors was held in Iola Thursday for a soldier killed in World War II. He never identified, until this year.

U.S. Army Air Forces Technical Sgt. Elliot Gomillion was working a top-secret mission on Aug. 1, 1943, over Romania. Over 100 bombers took off in the night tasked with destroying oil refineries that were providing a third of petroleum needs to Nazi Germany.

On this mission, the bomber with Tech. Sgt. Gomillion was shot down and his remains, unable to be identified, were preserved and buried as Unknown.

That was until his niece, Ellen Dyer, was contacted to provide DNA for advanced testing working to identify remains.

“You can’t even imagine some of the families that never get to see their loved ones come home. And they’ll be missing forever,” the soldier’s great-nephew, Martin Dyer, said.

Luckily, there was a match. In Spring 2023, the family was notified Gomillion’s remains were finally coming home.

Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, Tech. Sgt. Gomillion received a funeral with full military honors in his hometown of Iola. He was laid to rest in the Lake Grove Cemetery surrounded by family.

Ellen was handed the carefully folded flag that had been draped over the casket since landing in Texas. Inside the casket laid his few remains and dog tag.

The effort to get Tech. Sgt. Gomillion identified and home after 80 years took many hands. Nobles Funeral Home in Navasota worked to help make the process seamless and honor the veteran the best they know how.

“It’s such a long time coming and I’ve seen many of these and it gets me every single time, but this one was especially special,” Funeral Home Owner, Jeffery Nobles, said. “We’ve done many, many services over the years and served many veteran families, but this is definitely unique. It’s definitely special. We’re so proud to be able to be involved in honoring this veteran from World War II and bring his remains back to his family.”

Around 50 members of Tech. Sgt. Gomillion’s family attended the ceremony and then spent the day in Iola seeing where the soldier grew up. Gomillion’s uniform will be donated to the Museum of the American G.I. in College Station.

A group of students from Iola ISD were bussed into the cemetery to watch the ceremony. State Representative, John Rainey, presented a proclamation to the family along with a flag that flew over the State Capitol.