Decades after death, soldier’s remains return to Wyoming

Home|Feature Story, Local News, News|Decades after death, soldier’s remains return to Wyoming

SHERIDAN — The remains of Cpl. DeMaret Kirtley will return home with a law enforcement escort Thursday.

Kirtley, a native of Kaycee, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Kirtley was missing in action following a battle in late November or early December 1950. His official date of death is Dec. 6, 1950. Kirtley was buried by enemy soldiers in an anonymous grave and his remains were returned to the U.S. government following the Korean War. He was disinterred and laid to rest at a cemetery in Hawaii. Kirtley was identified last year through a sample of his brother’s DNA.

The escort will exit Interstate 90, travel on Main Street, Coffeen Avenue and Brundage Lane, before turning onto Big Horn Avenue and proceeding to Kane Funeral Home where a public viewing will be held from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Friday.

The only vehicles permitted to be a part of the procession while driving through town are the hearse, vehicles of Kirtley’s family and law enforcement vehicles, said Sheridan Police Department Lt. Tom Ringley. While the procession is traveling through Sheridan they will obey the rules of the road, including stopping at red lights.

“This is an event that the Sheridan Police Department is honored to participate in,” Ringley said.

Kirtley’s remains will arrive from Hawaii Thursday at Billings Logan International Airport in Billings, Montana, around 12:30 p.m. said Kay Penno, Sheridan County deputy coroner. From the airport, Kirtley’s remains will be escorted by the Montana Highway Patrol along with other veteran-based groups. The procession is scheduled to reach the Wyoming-Montana border around 2:30 p.m.

The motorcade will cross the border into Wyoming and an escort into Sheridan will be provided by Wyoming Highway Patrol, Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office, Wyoming Vietnam Legacy Veterans, Wyoming Freedom Riders and Wyoming Patriot Riders.

Once Kirtley’s remains enter SPD jurisdiction they will lead the hearse, family and other law enforcement vehicles through Sheridan.

Kirtley’s remains will remain in Sheridan until Saturday morning. At 6:30 a.m. his remains will be transported to the gymnasium at Harold Jarrard Park in Kaycee.

Members of Johnson County Sheriff’s Office will meet the procession at the Sheridan-Johnson county line and provide escort for the remainder of the journey.

A public viewing will begin at 9:30 a.m. and a memorial service will follow at 10 a.m. Saturday in Kaycee. The memorial service will be officiated by U.S. Army Chaplain Randy Sawyer. Kirtley’s remains will be buried in the Kaycee Cemetery with full military honors. A reception in the gymnasium will follow.

American flags have been placed along Main Street to honor Kirtley’s return, Penno said.

Kane Funeral home is helping with the transportation and funeral service.

Courtesy graphic |
The remains of Cpl. DeMaret Kirtley will make their way through Sheridan with an escort this week.

By |Jun. 26, 2019|

About the Author:

Joel Moline is the public safety reporter at The Sheridan Press. Born and raised in Laramie, he became interested in journalism during college, when he worked for the Branding Iron, the student newspaper at the University of Wyoming. Contact him at joel.moline@thesheridanpress.com.

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