North Tonawanda man takes DNA test, finds connection to missing relative killed in WWII

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – On the Fourth of July, we also remember the men and women who fought so that we can remain free.

More than 78 thousand soldiers were reported as “missing in action” in World War II. More than 70 years later, The Defense Department is still trying to bring closure to their families.

It’s been more than a year process for Rich Zilkowski. He’s been waiting to find out whether he is related to a World War II soldier killed in action.

A Buffalo man’s body was recently found in Germany. Now, Ziklowski says he finally has found closure.

Last year, Zilkowski got a call from a federal agent with the Army Casualty Office at Fort Knox. He was asked if he knew someone named Stanley Sachinowski.

Zilkowski said, “To finally hear that name after so many years, a flood of memories; my grandmother and pictures, and famous war stories and her unrelenting belief that one day he would come home.”

“Uncle Stanley” was considered a soldier missing in action. The pictures no longer exist, but for Zilkowski, the stories definitely did.

He said, “I had heard the legend of my uncle, but I hadn’t thought about him, I wasn’t even born when he was killed.”

The closest living relative to Sachinowksi, Zilkowski was asked to send in his DNA. He said, “It was a match, it was a perfect match.”

The agency had found a piece of his shoulder, in Germay. Zilkowski said, “He was killed on December 5th 1944 by an accidental explosion near Germany. His remains were never recovered.”

Now Zilkowski is learning everything from the exact spot he died, to how he played a role in one of the biggest battles in World War II.

Zilkowski said, “People have come up to me and said this has been trusted on you for a reason, there is a purpose you’re here.”

Zilkowski’s uncle died in the battle of Hürtgen forest, one of the longest battles in American history with the heaviest amount of casualties in world war II.

Rich Zilkowski will now receive any belongings that his “Uncle Stan” left behind. He says, for him this closes a chapter and answers unanswered questions.

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