The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, recently accounted-for from World War II, are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Navy Reserve Lt. j.g. Irvin E. Rink, 25, of Wichita, Kansas, accounted for on July 10, 2017, will be buried April 16 in his hometown. On Aug. 4, 1943, Rink was a member of Fighting Squadron Twenty Seven (VF-27), when eight pilots flying F4F-4 Wildcat aircraft took off from the Russell Islands, Solomon Islands, to escort a Catalina seaplane on a mission to Enogai Inlet, New Georgia Island. As the seaplane attempted to land at Enogai Inlet, the escort aircraft were attacked by Japanese fighter planes. Following the battle, the element returned to the Russell Islands, however Rink did not return. He was reported missing in action on Aug. 4, 1943. Based on a lack of information regarding his whereabouts, he was declared deceased on Jan. 8, 1946.
In March 2008, Mark Roche, an American diver, photographed an F4F-4 aircraft inverted on a reef approximately 45 feet under water off the northwest coast of New Georgia. He recovered human remains and material evidence from the wreckage and transferred them to the U.S. Consulate in Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
In February 2013, a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (predecessor to DPAA) team traveled to the Solomon Islands where they received possible remains from the crash site. The remains were sent to the laboratory and consolidated the remains found in 2008.
To identify Rink’s remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial (mtDNA) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA, which matched his family, as well as anthropological analysis, which matched Rink’s records, and historical evidence.
DPAA is grateful to Mark Roche for his assistance in this recovery.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,934 service members (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable) still unaccounted for from World War II. Rink’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site, in the Philippines, along with other MIAs from World War II.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil, find us on social media at www.facebook.com/dodpaa or call (703) 699-1420.