Emotional homecoming: Remains of WWII airman come home to Connecticut

Wednesday, August 23, 2017 05:37PM
Liz Cho reports on the long-awaited homecoming for the family of one deceased World War II airman.

STAMFORD, Connecticut - It was an emotional and long-awaited homecoming for a family in Connecticut after the remains of a World War II airman were discovered decades after his death.
Ann Marie Galgano didn't know much about her uncle growing up, only that he was an airman killed in a plane crash in New Guinea.

Second Lieutenant Patrick "Bud" Byrnes grew up in Stamford and became a pilot on March 11, 1943, and he had only just begun his service overseas when he was killed in action that August.
His remains were not found for 74 years, but then his family got a call in June.

The military located his remains at the crash site, and DNA testing and a class ring helped identify him.

"We all wept out of joy," Galgano said. "But when we told my aunt, who was Bud's oldest sibling, it was a little bit of joy mixed with bringing up some very powerful feelings for her."

Anna Byrnes, a Navy captain herself, was Patrick's only living sibling. Sadly, shortly after learning that her brother's remains were discovered, she died at the age of 99.

"I think knowing that he was taken care of and safe meant everything to her," Galgano said.

The remains were returned to his hometown in Stamford last week, and Byrnes was laid to rest with full military honors.

"Even though it was 74 years later, they treat it just like it happened last week," Galgano said. "For us, this was giving him the homecoming that my grandparents weren't able to, being able to get him back to the place he really loved."

Since her aunt's death, Galgano says the family has discovered a treasure trove of mementos in her home. The pictures and letters they found will help them get to know the uncle they never met.
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