Albert “Bud” Rybarczyk, a radioman killed when Grumman TBF Avenger bomber crashed in Aimeliik State in Palau in 1944. (Photo courtesy of Project Recover)
The visit to Palau of two of the relatives of Albert “Bud” Rybarczyk, a radioman killed when Grumman TBF Avenger bomber crashed in Aimeliik State in Palau in 1944, will be able to bring further closure to the soldier’s family.
Dan O Brien, team member of Project Recover, told Island Times that Rybarczyk’s niece, Cindy Gray and her son Adam will be in Palau next week to dive the site where the soldier’s plane went down in 1944.
Project Recover is again in Palau this month for its annual mission to continue its effort in searching for missing U.S. servicemen believed to have died here during World War II.
O’Brien said Rybarczyk’s aircraft was shot down in 1944, Project Recover found the plane in 2014 and recovery of the remains happened a couple of years after.
He said two of the remains found were identified and sent home to their families for burial in 2017.
Rybarczyk had been Missing in Action since September 8, 1944. He was part of a US Navy three-man aircrew whose TBM-1c Avenger from the aircraft carrier, USS Intrepid, crashed after dropping a bomb on the power plant along western Aimeliik on that September day in 1944.
According to the Project Recover website, their mission was part of the preparation for the landing of the US Marines on Peleliu the following September 15th. Two airmen, Aviation Radioman Second Class Rybarczyk, and Aviation Ordnanceman Second Class Ora Sharninghouse died on that Avenger when it crashed into the ocean.
The search for Rybarczyk began in 2005, when then BentProp team members, working with the Palauan Historical Preservation Office and the Office of the President, interviewed, with the help of team guide Joe Maldangesang, Chief Rengulbai Brikul and his son, J. Brikul in their Aimeliik village.
With the help of BentProp working in partnership with SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography and University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment located the underwater crash site on March 25, 2014.
Adam, O’Brien said, learned to scuba last year so he can scuba dive and touch his “uncle’s airplane.”
O’Brien said Cindy and Adam are both excited to visit Palau pay respect to his uncle by visiting the site where his plane crashed.
The Project Recover mission this month is focusing on the execution sites of missing American soldiers in Babeldaob.
O’Brien said they are following leads to find the site where Japanese troops executed six Jesuit priests which they believe is also the site of the three soldiers and believed there are 15 more soldiers captured and killed in Palau.
He also urged the public to assist with any information on “cemeteries in Koror,” during the war that can help them with their mission. (Bernadette H. Carreon)