The remains of a U.S. Marine veteran who was missing in Ukraine for more than a year returned to the United States on May 19, and headed to his hometown in eastern North Carolina.
A Turkish Airlines plane flying from Istanbul with the remains of retired Marine Captain Grady Kurpasi landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in the early evening. They were loaded onto a private jet bound for Wilmington, North Carolina.
Kurpasi, a 50-year-old Iraq War veteran, volunteered in February 2022 to help evacuate Ukrainian residents and later fought in the Ukrainian Foreign Legion, according to the Weatherman Foundation, the group that located his remains and repatriated them.
He was last seen in April 2022 after investigating the source of some gunfire with fellow volunteers in southern Ukraine, and was declared dead in April 2023 by the U.S. State Department.
“There is an unspoken bond between those who serve in uniform,” said Weatherman Foundation President Meghan Mobbs, who led the effort to retrieve Kurpasi’s remains. “If you give your life in combat, your fellow Americans will bear any burden to bring you home.”