Jenny Drain Bulmer takes a walk with her grandson Robby Bulmer, 11, through the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Lima after leaving her first husband Carl’s gravesite.
Corporal Carl A. Drain came home for the last time yesterday. Thirty-seven years after the U. S. Army Air Corps flight engineer was killed in an airplane crash in a New Guinea jungle, his remains were buried with full military honors at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Lima, Livingston County.
About 70 friends, family members, and veterans bade farewell in a steady, cold rain. Most came to say goodbye to a fading memory of a young man they knew a long time ago.
Hugh and Gertrude Drain of Hemlock, Livingston County, the corporal’s parents, who are both in their 80’s and in wheelchairs, were near their son for the first time since he left for the war. And they said goodbye to their only child.
Jenny Drain Bulmer said goodbye to her first husband. The memorial service rolled away years. “You feel like you just want to see him,” Mrs. Bulmer said, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m glad that he’s home.”
Drain’s long journey home ended with a 21-gun salute and the playing of taps during the 10-minute service.
The journey began in nearby Hemlock in 1943. Drain was raised in Hemlock and graduated from Hemlock High School in 1940. His father ran the Drain Hardware store there. In September 1942 he married Jenny Boyd of Livonia. In 1943, he went into the service, where he was an engineer of a C-47A cargo plane used for carrying supplies and wounded soldiers.
The plane went down in bad weather on December 10th, 1944. Drain, the pilot; 2nd Lt. Stanley Campbell, the co-pilot; Lt. Robert H. Cameron, the radioman; Cpl. George E. Cunningham; and a passenger, Capt. Vladimir M. Sasko were also killed.
Officials searched the area after the crash but found nothing. The Army declared Drain dead December 11, 1945. He was 21 years old. The Drains accepted his death, but thought that they would never get his body back if he was lost in the South Pacific.
Two years later, Jenny Drain married Alfred Bulmer, an usher in her first wedding and a close friend of the couple. They now live in Locke, Cayuga County. They have two sons and five grandchildren.
In 1978, the American Embassy at Canberra, Australia, was notified that several U. S. World War II aircraft had been found in New Guinea. In April 1979, wreckage was found in the dense foliage of the New Guinea mountains. An Army search team went to the mountains in October 1980 and returned with what they thought were the remains of Corporal Drain. The remains were later identified as that of both Drain and Campbell. Last year the U. S. Army Central Identification Laboratory in Honolulu, specifically identified the remains of Corporal Drain from medical and dental records. The remains of the three other men in the plane have never been found.
The military flew Drain’s remains to Rochester last year. A military escort took the remains to a cemetery vault where they were stored until yesterday’s ceremony. Friends wheeled their chairs onto a mat next to the casket, which was sheltered from the rain by a green canvas awning. Flowers lined the front of the casket. Out of sight, behind the awning, wooden planks covered the grave where Drain’s gun-metal colored casket would be buried.
The late morning memorial service resonated with family ties and memories. Drain’s widow stood behind his mother in front of the flag-draped casket, her hands resting on Mrs. Drain’s shoulders. Her son Robert, a Baptist minister, read an opening prayer. Members of the Honoeye-Hemlock American Legion Post 1278, some of whom were Drain’s classmates, read the military funeral service, folded the flag, and handed it to Jenny Bulmer. The Drains wept openly throughout the service.
A 21-gun salute by the Legion broke the silence in the cemetery. Then it was over.
An hour later, Mrs. Drain’s sister, Alma Close, was buried 50 feet from her nephew. She died late last year and family members decided to have both funerals on the same day.
“We never ever thought such a thing would happen after this number of years,” Mrs. Bulmer said earlier this week. “I think they feel relieved he’s home,” Diane Bulmer, of Lansing, Tompkins County, Jenny Bulmer’s daughter-in-law, said after the service. “She (Jenny Bulmer) feels like the past is present, all of a sudden.”
For Hugh and Gertrude Drain, the uncertainty is over. They know where their son is now, they say. And they know they’ll be buried near him when they die.
“He’s not missing in some jungle,” Alfred Bulmer said. “He’s here. If they want to come over and see him they can. I didn’t know it would hit me this hard. I was over there with him in the South Pacific. I was the last one of anybody around her to see him.”
Bulmer, his wife, and Drain - so close in life and death - will remain so when the Bulmers die, Alfred Bulmer said. The couple purchased cemetery plots next to Drain. When Bulmer and his wife die, they will be buried “with Jenny between the two men she was married to,” Alfred Bulmer said.
“I’m glad he was here so we could bury him,” Drain’s mother said before the service. “It’s been on our mind a lot. We’ll be glad to have it over.” “We thought all the time he was in the water,” Mr. Drain said.
The Drains were lucky. In almost identical circumstances, Cpl. William Wohlgemuth of the Army Air Corps, a native of Alhambra, Calif. died in an airplane crash in New Guinea in 1945. The Army found and identified his remains last year. However, the family can’t be found.