Yeah, I don't understand that aspect IF the recovery people weren't compensated. I doubt very much however that they weren't compensated! Why would they have even started the job?
Note that there are a number of fine examples of aircraft that have come out of Lake Michigan and are now on display--stop on down by O'Hare airport and see the Wildcat on display sometime--nice resto and nicely displayed (and thousands enjoy it every year). I think an SBD went to Pensacola? Recall that the government, while having done some pretty stupid things with classic aircraft, has also had the foresight to preserve the largest collection of historic aircraft in the world and do a beautiful job in restoring them--visit the Smithsonian, Wright-Pat, Marine Corps Museum, and so on. Of course when one wants to see tragedies with classics one can also look at the twin Mustang which was totaled, the Helldiver, the 2 Mustangs which collided at Oshkosh and numerous other examples in private hands. I'm not saying they shouldn't have flown their own aircraft but let's not hold the govt to the fire and ignore the mistakes in the private ranks which resulted in significant aircraft losses . . . .