WASHINGTON, D.C. (WJMN) – The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced on Friday that U.S. Army Air Forces Flight Officer Chester L. Rinke, 33, of Marquette, Michigan, killed during World War II, was accounted for May 5, 2023.
According to a press release from DPAA, in the summer of 1944, Rinke was assigned to the 678th Bombardment Squadron, 444th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), 58th Bombardment Wing, Twentieth Bomber Command. On June 26, Rinke while serving as the flight officer on the B-29 Superfortress crashed into a rice paddy in the village of Sapekhati, India after a bombing raid on Imperial iron and steel works at Yawata, Kyushu Island, Japan. All 11 crew members were killed instantly in the crash.
On June 28, 1944 a team from 342nd Service Squadron, 329th Service Group visited the crash site recovering and identifying only seven sets of remains which were interred at in United States Military Cemetery in Panitola, Assam, India and subsequently disinterred and sent to their final internment on Jan. 13, 1948. By September of that same year, the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC) concluded that Rinke’s remains were non-recoverable.
In October 2014 the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (a DPAA predecessor organization) conducted a Joint Field Activity in Sapekhati, which led to the location of the crash site and the recovery of life support equipment and wreckage associated with the B29 aircraft. In 2018 and 2019, Southeastern Archaeological Research (SEARCH) a DPAA partner organization excavated the site and recovered possible osseous remains and material evidence.
To identify Rinke’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis as well as material evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), analysis.
Rinke will be buried at Seville, Ohio, on a date to be determined.