Posted at: 08/02/2013 11:25 PM
| Updated at: 08/02/2013 11:43 PM
By: Dan Levy
COLONIE - U.S. Army Sgt Dominick Licari was finally home Friday night, the last leg of his decades-long journey back to Frankfort, New York, took him through the Capital Region.
Licari was just 31, when his plane vanished in the South Pacific in March, 1944. Within a year, he was officially declared dead, even though his body hadn't been found.
Fast forward to 2013, 69 years later, the army notified Dominick's family that his remains had been found in New Guinea, and they were finally sending him home.
It was on a hot Albany International Airport tarmac that the flag-draped coffin carrying Licari's remains came into sight late Friday afternoon; about fifteen family members, friends, and military color guard were there to greet him, including Barbara Salisburg of Duanesburg.
"I believe any of our soldiers that give the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedom need to be remembered," Salisburg said. "This man has been missing for over sixty years and to know that he is brought back to his family and reunited with his brother and sister means the world to them and it shows that we as a country still care for our soldiers."
If he had made it home alive from World War II, Dominick Licari would have turned 100 last October. The army says he and his pilot were shot down by the Japanese over New Guinea in March, 1944.
His final ride home to Frankfort on Friday night included an escort from his hometown police department and from the Patriot Guard Riders, which according to their leader, Bill Schaaf, will guarantee a final trip with honor, dignity, and respect for a hero who died on the battlefield long before most of the riders were born.
"We don't have the opportunities like this to welcome home a hero like this," Schaaf said, "We are honored and privileged to be here today. What you're going to see here is people paying tributes to another member of the greatest generation."
It was also an opportunity for Susan Wells, of Troy, to distribute more Stars for Our Troops honoring another American hero who has finally come home.
"This year alone, I've given out over 100,000 stars, at least," Wells says.
Calling hours for Dominick Licari are Monday from 4 until 8 P.M. at the Iocovozzi Funeral Home in Frankfort. His funeral, with full military honors, is Tuesday morning at 10:00 A.M.