SUMTER COUNTY (WIS) - Family and friends of a Midlands Airman who was killed in the line of duty are struggling to come to terms with his death.
According to the Department of Defense, 23-year-old Senior Airman Andrew S. Bubacz of Dalzell died Nov. 12 in Nuristan, Afghanistan while working on a communications tower.
Bubacz, who joined the Air Force about five years ago, was assigned to the 97th Communications Squadron, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Friends say although Bubacz was an IT guy, he had hopes of going into medicine.
Andrew's friend, Gary Duggan, is having a hard time swallowing the news, "Just to hear suddenly that he was gone was just unreal," said Duggan.
Neighbor John Sammons was stunned to hear Bubacz died. "I called Linda, Andrew's mom and said, is it true? And through tears she said yes. So I got off the phone, my wife looked at me and I broke down," said Sammons. "To me he's a hero, he gave the ultimate price."
"He always had a lot of friends. I never personally met anyone who didn't like him," said Duggan.
"To me he's a hero," said Sammons. "He gave the ultimate price."
Bubacz joined the Air Force almost five years ago. His friends say he was a talented musician. "He always had a lot of friends. I never personally met anyone who didn't like him," said Duggan.
"Every time he'd come home on leave, he'd come by the house and tell me and my wife hello. He was just that kind of guy," said Sammons.
Bubacz recently became an uncle, but never got a chance to meet his niece.
Friends he left behind say the man who sacrificed it all will be remembered by what he gave along the way. "It was starting to rain and I recognized him from where his parents lived, I picked him up, he recognized the music in my truck and he said, oh you like this music? And about an hour later he dropped by with a CD made of the same band," recalled neighbor Bryan Miller.
"I'm just gonna miss my friend, my best friend," said Duggan.
Neighbors say Andrew's parents have flown to Dover, Delaware to be there when his body arrives. Funeral plans have not been finalized.