New information from a new search on Ancestry.com, and new information from military records have provided me with some new and updated information regarding Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, the navigator of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII.
To view my original post and other information about Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, please see the links at the end of this post.
Chester Anthony Rybarczyk was born 18 January 1923 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio to father Jan “John” Rybarczyk (1886 – 1963) and Jadwiga “Hattie” Malak Rybarczyk (1892 – 1950).
Chester’s father was noted as being born in Germany/Poland on early Federal Census records, but in Poland on later records. He immigrated to America in 1889 according to the 1930 census. Census records note Chester’s mother was born in Poland and immigrated in 1910.
Chester was one of nine children of John and Hattie Rybarczyk. The Rybarczyk children were,
- Daniel Stanley (1912 – 1992)
- Martha M. (1914 – 2008)
- Jane Agnes “Jennie” (1916 – 2001)
- Edmund Daniel (1917 – 1996)
- Stephanie Rita (1919 – 2015)
- Stanislawa (1921 – 1921)
- Chester Anthony (1923 – 1967)
- Felix Joseph (1925 – 1997)
- Anna Barbara (1926 – 2016)
The 1930 Federal Census notes that the Rybarczyk family lived at 1118 Blum Street in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. Chester was seven years old. The household included Chester’s parents and all siblings except for Stanislawa, who survived only twenty minutes after his birth on 11 August 1921.
The 1930 census record also notes that Chester’s parents were both born in Poland as were all of their parents. Chester and all of his siblings were born in Toledo. Chester’s father worked as a Foreman, a building contractor.
The 1940 Federal Census notes that the Rybarczyk family still lived at 1118 Blum Street in Toledo, but only the four youngest children remained living at home – Edmund, Chester, Felix, and Anna. Chester was seventeen years old.
Education and Civilian Employment Prior to Military Service
Chester Rybarczyk attended Libbey High School in Toledo, Ohio, and later graduated from Macomber Vocational High School in Auto Mechanics in 1941.
Before entering the service Chester worked for Bentley & Sons in Toledo, Ohio. Bentley & Sons was a contracting company and they built many Toledo area landmarks over the years.
Entry in WWII Military Service
On 30 June 1942, Chester Anthony Rybarczyk registered for the WWII draft at Local Board No. 14, 1332 Nebraska Avenue, Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. He listed his Place of Residence as 1118 Blum St., but replaced it with 3805 Rushland Ave., Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. He noted his Mailing Address was the same. Chester’s Employer’s Name was Bentley & Sons in Toledo, Ohio. He was 19 years old and born on 18 January 1923 in Toledo.
John Rybarczyk (Chester’s father), of the same address, was the person who would always know his address.
Chester described himself as 5′ 10″ tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair, and a dark complexion. He noted no “other obvious physical characteristic that will aid in identification.”
On 9 September 1942, Chester A. Rybarczyk enlisted in the Air Corps Enlisted Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio. Chester’s enlistment record notes his residence as Lucas County, Ohio and that he was born in Ohio in 1923. His Army Serial Number at the time of enlistment was 15132416. Note: Officers were reassigned with a new serial number when they were commissioned and Chester’s later become O-720014.
At the time of his enlistment, Chester Rybarczyk had completed 4 years of high school and was single, having no one dependent on him for support.
Note: Chester’s enlistment record is found in the Reserve Corps Records, rather than in the Enlistment Records file, link below.
Chester Rybarczyk’s military personnel records were lost in the fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, leaving me without a history of his military training, but he would have attended basic training, gunnery school, navigator’s school, and phase training at Ardmore, Oklahoma with the John Oliver Buslee crew before his entry into combat.
An Officers’ Pay, Allowance, and Mileage Voucher record from September 1945 notes that Chester Rybarczyk entered Active Duty on 28 January 1943. He was ordered to Active Duty from his Reserve Status from Toledo, Ohio.
The same pay record notes that Chester Rybarczyk was commissioned on 8 April 1944, likely indicating his graduation from navigator school and appointment as 2nd Lt. as of this date.
Combat Duty in World War II in the 384th Bomb Group
Chester Rybarczyk’s 384th Bomb Group Individual Sortie record indicates that his duty was Navigator, one month’s pay was $247.50, and his home address was Mrs. Hattie Rybarczyk, 1118 Blum St., Toledo, Ohio.
Chester Rybarczyk was credited with thirty-five missions with the 384th Bomb Group. His first mission was on 4 August 1944 and his last was on 18 December 1944.
While serving with the 384th Bomb Group in England, Chester inscribed the back of his A2 flight jacket with “Korky,” his nickname for his sweetheart back home, Bernadette Koralewski.
The jacket also shows a picture of a bomb for each of his missions except for his 15th mission. That mission is depicted as a boot, signifying a mission from which the boys had to “walk” back to base after a crash landing when their B-17 did not make it back to England.
Morning Reports of the 384th Bombardment Group and other military documents indicate the following for Chester Rybarczyk
- On 22 JULY 1944, 2nd Lt. Chester Anthony Rybarczyk was assigned to the 544th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), per AAF Station 106 Special Orders #144 dated 22 July 1944 as Navigator of the John Oliver Buslee crew with the MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) of 1034.
- On 7 OCTOBER 1944, on his fifteenth mission to a synthetic oil plant at Leipzig, Germany, Chester Rybarczyk’s B-17 was hit by flak. Flying with the James W. Orr crew on B-17 43-38615, they landed safely in allied territory near Brussels, Belgium. With all the crew safe, they returned to duty at Grafton Underwood to continue their active duty.
- On 26 NOVEMBER 1944, Chester Rybarczyk was promoted to First Lieutenant effective 26 November 1944 per Headquarters, Eighth Air Force Special Orders #323, EXTRACT dated 26 November 1944.
- On 20 DECEMBER 1944, Chester Rybarczyk was released from assigned & transferred to Casual Pool 70th Replacement Depot AAF Station 591, departed per 6 SO 355 HQ 1st Bomb Division (Completed tour).
Return to the States
Although I know Chester Rybarczyk was released from duty with the 384th Bomb Group on 20 December 1944, I do not know the date he returned to the States.
A letter he sent to my grandmother on 15 July 1945 from AAFNS (Army Air Forces Navigation School) puts him at Hondo Army Air Field, Hondo, Texas as of that date. He was inquiring about my dad’s (George Edwin Farrar’s) return to the States following his release as a prisoner of war. Where Chester had been stationed between 20 December 1944 and 15 July 1945, I do not know.
Release from WWII Active Duty
Chester Anthony Rybarczyk was released from active duty and discharged from military service in September 1945.
From Headquarters, Army Air Forces Flight Engineer School, Hondo Army Air Field, Hondo, Texas, Extract dated 4 September 1945, Special Orders #213, Chester Rybarczyk was released from further assignment and duty at this station & WP to (his) home, for release from active duty with TDY enroute at Separation Center, Camp Atterberry, Indiana, as required for processing.
Chester left Hondo AAF Texas on 7 September 1945 and arrived at Camp Atterbury, Indiana on 10 September 1945.
From Army Service Forces, Fifth Service Command, 1560th SCU, Separation Center, Camp Atterbury (Station 4333), Indiana, Extract dated 11 September 1945, Special Orders #215, Chester Rybarczyk was released from attached unassigned this organization 11 September 1945 and WP to arrive home on date specified (19 September 1945), upon midnight of which date he will revert to inactive status.
Chester left Camp Atterbury on 11 September 1945 and arrived in Toledo, Ohio on 12 September 1945. He was officially discharged from military service on 19 September 1945.
Military Record and Report of Separation/Certificate of Service
Again, Chester Rybarczyk’s military personnel records were lost in the fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, leaving me without his Military Record and Report of Separation/Certificate of Service.
Medals and Decorations
During his military service with the 384th Bomb Group in World War II, Chester Rybarczyk earned an Air Medal with five oak leaf clusters.
He likely also was awarded the EAME (European–African–Middle Eastern Campaign) Ribbon, WWII Victory Medal, and American Theater Ribbon, however, since his personnel records appear not to have survived the fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC), I cannot confirm these awards.
Civilian Life After the War
Chester Anthony Rybarczyk married Bernadette Helen Koralewski on 21 May 1945 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio. Bernadette was born 17 December 1924 in Toledo.
Chester Rybarczyk watched his original crew go down on 28 September 1944, but according to Bernadette as reported by their son Tony, he did not talk much about it.
In the 1950 Federal Census, Chester (age 27) and Bernadette (age 25) Rybarczyk were a married couple living in Toledo, Ohio with their one-year-old son Eugene. Chester’s occupation was bus driver on a public bus. In the years to come, the family would grow to four children, two boys and two girls.
On 16 July 1952, Chester Rybarczyk was accepted into the Toledo Fire Department and assigned badge #109. On 9 March 1964, he was promoted to Lieutenant.
On 2 September 1967, the Toledo Fire Department Rescue Squad responded to a two-alarm fire at a local north side tavern, Pee Wee’s Inn, at 5101 Suder Avenue.
Lieutenant Chester Rybarczyk, now a fifteen-year veteran with the Toledo Fire Department, was one of the firefighters who entered the building to fight the fire. Suddenly, conditions inside the building changed and the rescue squad attempted to evacuate the structure.
Four firefighters became trapped behind a partition separating the bar from a game room. Two of the four men made it out while Chester and another firefighter, James Martin, remained trapped. Crews on the outside used a ladder in a rescue attempt through a window. They were able to pull James out first, saving him. With James safe, they began to pull an unconscious Chester, overcome by smoke, out of the same window.
The fireman that had a hold of Chester’s arm stepped on a power line that had fallen on the ladder. When the shock of electricity hit him, he lost his grip and Chester fell back into the burning room. Chester was finally removed from the building, but he died shortly afterward at Riverside Hospital. The other three firefighters managed to escape with only minor injuries.
Chester Rybarczyk died 2 September 1967 in Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, at the age of 44. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, Grave S 1/2, Range or Lot 21, Section 34.
Bernadette Helen Koralewski Rybarczyk died 22 September 1986 at the age of 61 in North Port, Sarasota County, Florida. She was a school bus driver for the North Port school district. She was survived by sons Eugene and Anthony, and daughters Frances (Stein) and Michelle (Lindsey).
Forty-seven years after his death, on 2 September 2014, Lt. Matthew Hertzfeld, the Public Information Officer of the Toledo, Ohio Fire & Rescue Department, posted online memorials to Chester Rybarczyk to both the department’s Facebook page and website.
Chester is listed on the department’s website’s “Memorials” page along with all of the department’s Line of Duty Deaths. Since 2014, the Toledo Fire & Rescue Department remembers Chester Rybarczyk every September 2 with this memorial on their Facebook page,
Previous post, Chester Rybarczyk
Previous post, Chester Rybarczyk – After the War
Chester Rybarczyk’s Enlistment Record in the online National Archives (in the Reserve Corps records)
Chester Rybarczyk’s Personnel Record courtesy of the 384th Bomb Group
MOS means Military Occupational Specialty
Previous post, Assigned Military Occupational Specialties of the Buslee and Brodie Crews
Previous post, Timeline for Buslee Crewmembers and Substitutes, 544th Bomb Squadron
Chester A. Rybarczyk’s Find a Grave memorial
Stanislawa Rybarczyk’s Find a Grave memorial
Bernadette H. Koralewski Rybarczyk’s Find a Grave memorial
Toledo Fire & Rescue Department Facebook memorials to Chester Rybarczyk
Toledo Fire & Rescue Department Website Memorial’s page
© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2023