Name of Taylor soldier to be unveiled in Veterans Memorial Garden on May 15

TAYLOR - On Christmas Day 1952, the family of Alva Trombly Jr. received word that the 21-year-old Army corporal had gone missing in action two months earlier during the Korean War.

A year later, Cpl. Trombly was presumed dead by the Army, although his body has never been found.

Two years ago, Trombly’s brother and sister provided DNA samples in an attempt to assist military officials identify some remains believed to be of U.S. soldiers. To date, there has been no match.

On Saturday morning, May 15, the name “Alva Trombly Jr.” will be unveiled on the Korean War monument that is part of the Veterans Memorial Garden outside the Police Department in Priebe Plaza just east of City Hall. Cpl. Trombly will join the names of four other Taylor men who lost their lives during the war.

Trombly’s niece, Taylor resident Kimberly Cullinan, notified city officials that her uncle’s name should be added to the monument. She noted that the Korean War casualty list claimed Trombly lived in Wyandotte, which was an error since the family home on Mortenview was in Taylor Township. Some paperwork also misspelled his name “Trombley,” which added to the confusion.

Family members were divided on whether Trombly was killed in North Korea. Cullinan and her aunt, Betty Comerzan, said they believe Alva was killed in the war. Brother William – Cullinan’s father, who lives in Arizona – said he and his mother Louise thought Alva was alive.

“It’s important to me that they find his remains so there’s closure for me and the family,” Cullinan said.

Cullinan, who studies genealogy, discovered on an Internet blog that the government was looking for survivors of her uncle. She arranged to get DNA from her father and aunt and sent it to Arlington, Virginia.

“They’re over there still trying to recover the remains to connect families with their loved ones,” Cullinan said.
Alva, who was called “Sonny,” was one of six children of Alva and Louise Trombly, who lived in the 14000 block of Mortenview. His sisters Geraldine, Betty and Ileane were older. Brothers Donald and William were younger.

All three sons were in the military. Alva and Donald were drafted into the Army; William enlisted in the Air Force.

Alva was a member of Company I, 3rd Battalion and 32nd Infantry Regiment of the 7th Infantry Division. The Korean War Project Remembrance says he was listed as MIA “while fighting the enemy in North Korea on October 14, 1952. He was presumed dead on December 31, 1953.”

Comerzan, who lives in Brownstown Township, said she was not in favor of Alva being in the Army because of the risk involved
“I love my brother – I still miss him today,” she said.

William Trombly said he was home with his mother on Christmas Day 1952 when Army officers knocked on the door to tell them Alva was MIA.

William, who looked up to his brother, was devastated by the news. He said a memorial tree was planted in Alva’s honor in Wyandotte, since Alva was born in Wyandotte, but no funeral service was held. To this day, William believes his brother may have been brainwashed by the North Koreans and was allowed to live in Korea.

“Still don’t believe he’s dead,” William said. “It’s just my feeling. I’ve always had that feeling he’s over there somewhere.”

Only 16 years old when Alva was drafted into the Army, William enlisted at age 18 in the Air Force as the Korean War continued. William said he hoped to be sent to Korea so he could search for his brother, but when the Air Force officials learned Alva was presumed dead, they sent William to Germany instead.

Both William and Betty were pleased to learn their brother’s name would be added to the Veterans Memorial Garden. Betty said she would try to attend the Veterans Memorial Ceremony.

“That’s where he was when he went in: Taylor,” William said. “That’s beautiful.”

Cullinan will be unable to attend the city’s “Day to Remember.” She’ll be in Grayling for a baby shower in honor of her future grandchild.
“I’m disappointed, but I’ll get to see it when I get back,” she said. “It’s going to be very nice.”

-- David Gorgon