After 75 years, World War II veteran’s remains coming home

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- The body of a World War II Marine is coming home after spending the last 75 years as an unidentified, killed in action.

Nicholas Gojmerac was a tough guy from Kansas City, Kansas who went to Wyandotte High School before enlisting in the Marines.

After a battle in Japan in July of 1943, his family never heard from him again but always thought one day he would come home.

Home was a house on Thompson Street in KCK. It was where Nicholas Gojmerac, his brother and four sisters grew up in the Croatian neighborhood of Strawberry Hill.

Her uncle was killed the year after Therese Moeller was born, but every family gathering, every holiday Uncle Nicholas was there in stories and in spirit.

“I never knew him however he was very much a part of the family,” Moeller said.” There was never a closure you know? There was never any closure on it they always said that he would come back.”

Private First Class Gojmerac was assigned to the Fourth Raider Battalion. On July 20, 1943, the Fourth Raiders assaulted a Japanese stronghold at Bairoko Harbor, New Georgia Island, Solomon Islands. According to U.S. Marine records, during the Battle of New Georgia, Gojmerac was last seen after crawling through heavy fire and providing medical care to a marine while he was also mortally wounded.

“It doesn’t surprise me and I think he has a medal for that too,” Moeller said.

The remains of 21 unidentified Marines were eventually recovered from that battlefield and buried in Hawaii in 1949, including one then named X-6.

“My mother thought that he had been hurt so bad that he didn’t want to come back,” Moeller said. “He was embarrassed to come back so she never, never thought that he had died actually.”

In 2018, after Gojmerac parents, brother and sisters had died, a knock on Moeller’s door by two Marines brought the closure her family had been looking for. The body known by the Marine Corps as X-6 for 75 years is her Uncle, Private First Class Nicholas Gojmerac.

It is the end of a long road that not only brings Moeller closure for her family, but also comfort and hope during what she calls a divisive time in our country.

“These Marines had taken care of bring back one of their own they always say that about the Marines but this really shows it,” Moeller said. “My feeling for my country was, it really helped my feeling because I was kind of depressed a lot of the time because of what’s going on now.”

The body of Private First Class Nicholas Gojmerac will return to Kansas City at the end of April.

Uncle Nicholas will be met at the airport by the surviving members of his family, including nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. His body taken to the Leavenworth National Cemetery for a proper burial with full military honors.

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