Family gets to say goodbye to uncle who went missing in World War II

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jul 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-20 19:53:12-04

It's a 74-year-old mystery that's finally been solved for a Westland man and his family.

For all that time, Tom Kozak has wondered what happened to his beloved uncle, Walter Mintus. 

"He was more like a brother to me," he says.

Mintus joined the Navy and was in combat during World War II. Kozak says the plane he was in had been shot down in 1944 in the South Pacific. At the time, Kozak was 10. He's now 84.

"We didn't know if he'd been killed or captured or what happened," says Kozak.

Now, after 7 decades, he and his family are preparing to bring him home to Pennsylvania for a final good-bye.

Kozak says a few months ago, the US Navy contacted his niece and told them remains had recently been found in a plane that could be those of Walter Mintus.

After she and Kozak's brother provided DNA, they got confirmation that the remains are those of Walter Mintus.

"It's such a good feeling. It's like he's coming back," says Kozak.

The family wants to thank everyone who helped make it happen and all those who have served our country.

Kozak says being able to bring his uncle's remains home gives the whole family relief. He wants to be able to honor his uncle for all that he gave to our country.

He says, "I would say to him thanks a lot for the service you gave to our country. I'm really glad that I'm one of the few people left to honor you and bury you and put you to rest."