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Marquette man serving in the Air Force during WWII accounted for after nearly 80 years missing

Using DNA analysis, scientists were able to determine remains found at a crash site in India belonged to a Marquette airman nearly 80 years after his death.
Credit: DPAA
Marquette native Chester Rinke (back row, far right) pictured with his crew.

MARQUETTE, Mich. — After 79 years being unaccounted for, the remains of Marquette native Chester Rinke, who served with the Air Force during World War II, have been located and identified.

The identification was made back on May 5 through the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which works to locate and recover remains of missing military personnel.

Rinke served as a flight officer in the 678th Bombardment Squadron, 444th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), 58th Bombardment Wing, Twentieth Bomber Command. On June 26, 1944, he was on the B-29 Superfortress on a bombing mission when the plane crashed into a rice paddy in Sapekhati, India. The crash killed all 11 crew members on board. 

Two days later, a team was only able to locate and identify seven of the men onboard, who were later sent home to be buried in 1948.

In October 2014, a crew with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command returned to the crash site and located debris from the plane. In 2018 and 2019, a team with Southeastern Archaeological Research returned and found skeletal remains. 

Using mitochondrial DNA analysis, the DPAA was able to determine that the remains belonged to Rinke.

Rinke’s family was only recently contacted and informed. Rinke’s remains will be buried in Seville, Ohio. A burial date has not yet been set.

Rinke has been memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

For more information on the DPAA and the work they do, click here.

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