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World War II Airman Who Died In 1943 Returning Home To Stamford For Burial

Patrick Byrnes Jr.
Patrick Byrnes Jr. Photo Credit: Contributed

STAMFORD, Conn. — A World War II airman who died in a plane crash in Papua New Guinea in 1943 will finally return to Stamford to be laid to rest in his  hometown 74 years after his death.

The remains of Patrick "Bud" Byrnes Jr. were recently identified and transported back to the United States for burial, according to Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home. The funeral home said it will have the honor of providing services for the veteran, who died at the age of 23.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist at 279 Atlantic St. in Stamford on Saturday, Aug. 19, at 10:30 a.m. Burial with full military honors will follow at Queen of Peace Cemetery at 124 Rockrimmon Road.

Sadly, Patrick Byrnes' last remaining sibling, Navy Capt. Anna M. Byrnes , did not live long enough to see her brother's remains return to their hometown. She died on Sunday, Aug. 6, at the age of 99 and was herself a veteran.

Patrick Byrnes, a Stamford native, was killed in action on Aug. 31, 1943, in Papua New Guinea.

Related story: Services Set For Capt. Anna Byrnes, 99, Navy Nurse From Stamford

His original obituary was published in the Stamford Advocate in 1943:

“Second Lieut. Patrick J. Byrnes, Jr., Army Air Corps, son of Mr. and Mrs. Patrick J. Byrnes of 63 Clinton Ave., who had been reported ‘missing in action’ in the Southwest Pacific area, was today reported as ‘killed in action on Aug. 31.’ Adjutant Gen. Uho, in a telegram to Mrs. Byrnes, said: ‘The Secretary of War desires that I render his deep sympathy to you in the loss of your son, Second Lieut. Patrick J. Byrnes, Jr., previously reported missing since Aug. 31. Correct report states that he was killed in action on Aug. 31 in Southwest Pacific area. Letter follows,’" the obituary said.

The original obituary said Byrnes was born in Stamford and graduated from St. John’s Parochial School and St. Basil’s Preparatory School. He worked at American Cyanamid, Co.

Byrnes enlisted as an aviation cadet on April 14, 1942, and received his wings on March 11, 1943, at Hondo Army Air Field in Texas in aerial navigation.

"While at school he was outstanding in basketball. He had been stationed at Davis-Montham Field, Tucson, Arizona, until assigned abroad. The first telegram received from the War Department stated that Lieut. Byrnes had been missing since Aug. 31. It was received on Sept. 9,” the obituary said.

He is survived by his sister-in law, Rosemarie Byrnes of Stamford, and nieces and nephews who never got to meet him: Patrick Hughes of Lake Oswego, Ore.; Michael Hughes of Moorpark, Calif,; Peter Hughes of Glen Ridge, NJ.; William Hughes of Las Vegas; Mary Parker of Amarillo, Texas; Gregory Byrnes of Stratham, N.H.; and Anmarie Galgano of South Salem, N.Y.

In addition to his oldest sister, Capt. Anna Byrnes, he was predeceased by his parents, his sisters, Elizabeth Bennett and Rita Hughes and his brother, William Byrnes.

"The Byrnes family would like to thank and acknowledge William Cox, senior mortuary affairs specialist, U.S. Army, Capt. Patrick Montes, casualty assistance officer, U.S. Army National Guard, and Chris Farrugio with Leo P. Gallagher & Son Funeral Home for their kindness and commitment to ensuring Bud’s safe and respectful return to his final resting place," said a statement from the funeral home.

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