Remains of WWII Marine returning home to Kansas City after 75 years

KMBZ News Staff
March 07, 2019 - 4:56 pm
Categories: 

Kansas City, KS - Nicholas Gojmerac enlisted in the US Marine Corps on January 7, 1942, exactly one month to the day following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  

He was shipped off to the USMC Recruit Depot in San Diego for boot camp and four months later Private First Class Gojmerac was in the South Pacific in the middle of World War II.

Now, 76 years after enlisting, he is returning home. 
 

 

PFC Gojmerac was a member of the Marine Raiders, elite units formed to launch amphibious assaults behind enemy lines during the war.

In July 1943 he was part of the Battle of Bairoko on New Georgia Island during the Allied campaign to retake the Solomon Islands from the Japanese.

According to military records and after-action reports, Gojmerac saw one of his buddies fall in the wall of fire during the battle and “with complete self-sacrifice, crawled out to him through extremely heavy rifle, machine-gun and mortar fire, administered first aid and dragged him to safety.”

Gojmerac was badly wounded during this act of bravery to help a fellow Marine.  

Following the battle, Gojmerac was nowhere to be found and he was listed as MIA - Missing In Action.  A year later he was listed as KIA - Killed in Action.

He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions during the battle, and the Purple Heart for what would be his mortal wounds. 

"No conclusive trace of Nicholas Gojmerac was found, and on 21 July 1944 he was officially declared dead. His mother, Rose, received the posthumous Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Gojmerac for saving his wounded friend," according to missingmarines.com

His mother and family were notified by the military of his presumed death, but his body was never returned.

For three-quarters of a century his family did not know where he was. His mother died in 1965 never knowing what really happened to her son.

As it turns out... Nicholas Gojmerac was buried in a military cemetery on New Georgia Island shortly after the battle in which he died.

In the month and years to follow, his remains were disinterred and moved several times to new cemeteries around the Pacific, his identity unknown to the military. 

He was designated "X-43" and "X-495" and "X-6", and eventually his remains were buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

During the same time period that his remains were being moved from cemetery to cemetery,  a search was conducted of the battle site after the war in 1947.

The search team concluding that PFC Gojmerac was likely lost to the jungle and to time.

Then in September 2018 it all changed.

Through research conducted by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) the connection was made between the case of the missing PFC Gojmerac and the remains marked "X-6".

According to a release, on Aug. 20, 2018, DPAA disinterred the remains and brought them to a laboratory for analysis.

To identify Gojmerac’s remains, scientists used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial, historical and material evidence.

A month after "X-6" was disinterred, a conclusion was made - the remains belong to PFC Nicholas Gojmerac of Kansas City, Kansas.

The remains will be returned to his family later in April of 2019.

Gojmerac will then be buried with full military honors at the Leavenworth National Cemetery. 

 

 

 

Comments ()