Remains identified of Michigan airman who died in crash following WWII bombing raid on Japan

MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) — Military scientists have identified the remains of a U.S. Army airman from Michigan who died along with 10 other crew members when a bomber crashed in India following a World War II bombing raid on Japan.

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency said Friday that the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces Flight Officer Chester L. Rinke of Marquette, Michigan, were identified in May. Scientists used anthropological analysis, material evidence and mitochondrial DNA to identify his remains.

Rinke was 33 and serving as the flight officer on a B-29 Superfortress when it crashed into a rice paddy in the village of Sapekhati, India, on June 26, 1944, after a bombing raid on Imperial Iron and Steel Works on Japan's Kyushu Island. All 11 crew members died instantly, the DPAA said in a news release.

Rinke will be buried at Seville, Ohio, on a date yet to be determined.

The federal agency said the remains of seven of the 11 crew members were recovered within days of the crash and identified, but in 1948 the American Graves Registration Command concluded that Rinke’s remains and those of the three other flight members "were non-recoverable.”

However, additional searches of the crash site in 2014, 2018 and 2019 led to the recovery of wreckage, equipment and bone remains, among other evidence, the DPAA said in a profile of Rinke.

“The laboratory analysis and the totality of the circumstantial evidence available established an association between one portion of these remains and FO Rinke,” the profile states.