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Family gathers for return of Airman's remains, 70 years later
FRANKFORT, N.Y. (WKTV) - Nearly 70 years after he went missing in action overseas during WWII, the remains of Army Air Corps Sgt. Dominick Licari, of Frankfort, are coming home.
Licari's brother gave DNA to a recovery group in December in hopes that it would one day help identify the remains of the person he calls, "a perfect big brother".
That call, and that day, came three weeks ago.
On Friday, Sgt. Licari's brother and nieces, accompanied by the Patriot Guard Riders, set out on the NYS Thruway to Albany to bring home their brother and uncle.
"I wish I could articulate the feeling so that people could understand it. It's joy and sadness at the same time and how do you describe that? It's very confusing. We're happy to have closure now but at the same time, we're going through a period of mourning, really," says August "Mort" Licari, who now lives in Florida.
Sgt. Licari's A-20 Havoc Bomber failed to return to base in 1944 after bombing enemy targets in New Guinea. A recovery group found his remains and dog tags last year while excavating a crash site in New Guinea.
After navigating some international protocol and red tape, the family on Friday was off to Albany to retrieve his remains.
The Patriot Guard Riders accompanied the Licari family on the Thruway to act as a buffer between them and any protesters who might show up.
"We're not a confrontational group. If they're yelling , we'll start some motorcycles up and drown them out. If they've got signs, we'll take our 3x5 flags and form a wall so that they family will see the flags, they won't see the signs," said Region 3 Lead Ride Captain Ed Czarnecki.
"It's just so the family can grieve in peace, you know? It's an awful price to pay for our freedom," added Czarnecki.
Nieces who never met their uncle are making the trip to Albany to bring home his remains. For the little brother who didn't have his big brother nearly long enough, it's a journey laced with tears of joy and sadness.
"For me, a brother who had enjoyed his presence and really, a perfectly, perfectly beautiful big brother, I really can't explain my feelings," says Mort Licari.
Sgt. Licari will be laid to rest in the family plot.