BRADENTON -- Even though Staff Sgt. Robert E. Sudbury died Dec. 16, 1943, when his B-17 bomber crashed in The Netherlands after being hit by German anti-aircraft fire, he has never been forgotten.
His photo has been enshrined in a place of honor outside the media center at Manatee High School, along with other students from the school who died in World War II.
When retired Manatee High School teacher Mary Alta Griffin read a Bradenton Herald story Thursday that the Faces of Margraten project in The Netherlands was seeking a photo of Sudbury, she called the Herald.
"I know where you can find that photo," Griffin said, noting that it is in the halls of Manatee High.
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"He was a few years ahead of me, and I remember him well. He was blond and had a nice smile," Griffin said.
It was a shock and a cause for grieving when Manatee County lost a member of the military during the war, but life went on.
"We were all awfully busy with the war and getting through it," she said Thursday.
Manatee County resident Teresa Hirsch had been searching for a photo of Sudbury since November 2015, and turned recently to the Herald for help.
Hirsch was seeking the photo for the Faces of Margraten project, which is trying to collect a photo of each of the 10,000 Americans at rest in the Netherlands American Cemetery.
Hirsch was thrilled to learn that Sudbury's photo had been
"There is this expression, that a person doesn't die until the last person who remembers them dies. Now he is being remembered all over again," Hirsch said.
Since the end of World War II, the citizens of Margraten annually decorate the graves of the "fallen liberators."
Don Sudbury, a nephew of Robert Sudbury, lives in the Bradenton area, and though he never knew his uncle, he heard plenty about him growing up.
"My dad and my uncle joined the Army together. My dad came back, but my uncle didn't," Sudbury told the Herald on Thursday. "My dad felt bad because he told his mother he would take care of his little brother."
Robert E. Sudbury's body was never recovered. His brother, LeRoy, never gave up hope some remnant would eventually be found, perhaps a dogtag.
In honor of his brother who was killed in the war, LeRoy Sudbury gave one son his first name, Robert, and the other his middle name, Edwin.
Hirsch, who forwarded Sudbury's photo to the Faces committee Thursday, plans to attend the ceremony this year, as she did last year.
"Someone has adopted him in The Netherlands and now they'll know his face," Hirsch said.
James A. Jones Jr., Herald reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.