2Lt. Francis P. Rybak
Photo: Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
Francis P. “Frank” Rybak had just passed his twenty-fifth birthday when he paid the ultimate price for our freedom. He was a second lieutenant in the Army serving with Company C of the 1st Battalion 27th Infantry 25th Infantry Division. Frank was born in Syracuse on December 26, 1942. He grew up in Camillus, enlisted in the army on February 7, 1966 and was killed in action in Bình Dương, Vietnam on January 5, 1968. He was the son of Frank and Emily Rybak of Joel Lane, Camillus. A flagpole outside of St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Camillus is dedicated to his memory along with that of another local Vietnam soldier killed in action. His name appears on the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC (also known as the Vietnam Wall).
Frank’s name can be found on the wall in panel 33E, line 52 and Frank’s memory can be found in the hearts of all who knew and loved him; this is evidenced in the many messages posted on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund’s “Wall of Faces” website. Messages left for Frank include classmates from the West Genesee High School Class of 1961 that say he is still remembered; one classmate mentions his cordial smile captured in the class yearbook photo and says that he had a personality to match that smile; he was a guy who could always be counted on to give an uplifting word or two.
One message writer was a fellow soldier serving under Lt. Rybak in his platoon. He had arrived in Vietnam around the same time as Frank. On the fortieth anniversary of his death, this man, who was once Lt. Rybak’s RTO (radio telephone operator), still made time to pay homage to the sacrifice of his platoon leader with a heartfelt message that read, “I remember Lt. Rybak as a really nice guy, who had great energy and enthusiasm for his job…If any of his family should read this, I would like you know [sic] you can be very proud of Lt. Rybak; I know I am.”
And proud they were. Frank’s father shared a message stating “He gave his life to save his platoon on a seek and destroy mission. I also served in WWII as a paratrooper with the 517 parachute regimental combat team, and this ties us together.” Another well-wisher summed it up perfectly with a message to Frank’s memory that said “Saying thank you isn't enough, but it is from the heart…Please watch over America, it stills needs your strength, courage, guidance, and faithfulness, especially now. Rest in peace with the angels.”
Thank you, Frank, for your service and your sacrifice.