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Michiana WWII airman MIA for seven decades, discovered and returned to family

ST. JOSEPH, Mi.— For over 70 years, Michiana WWII airman Albert "Bud" Rybarczyk was considered missing in action. His family never lost hope. Thanks to a dedicated recovery team, his remains were laid to rest in St. Joseph on Monday.

Back in 1944, 22-year-old Rybarczyk was killed when his plane went down in Palau. While lacking closure, his family never lost hope.

“After that long you just don’t think you’re going to hear something like that. There’s really not an appropriate word for how we’re feeling. We’re excited. It’s been a miracle,” says niece Cindy Gray.

Gray says she and her family are incredibly thankful to Project Rescue. Led by Patrick Scannon, the team spent 9 years trying to locate Rybarczyk’s remains.

“The family never forgot. In fact, they always talked about Bud Rybarczyk. All of these airman sacrificed for everything I have and so many Americans have, and to be able to express gratitude for all of their sacrifices is incredible important,” says Scannon.

With over 70,000 military men and women listed as MIA, Scannon’s job isn’t over. And Gray has a message for the families still searching.

“Don’t give up hope. Because there’s always hope. This has been 73 years so miracles do happen,” says Gray.

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