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News Release

Press Release | March 28, 2024

Soldier Accounted for from WWII (Benak, F.)

Washington  –  

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Cpl. Frank V. Benak, 24, of Scottsville, Michigan, killed during World War II, was accounted for on February 2, 2024.

In December 1942, Benak was assigned to Cannon Company, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division, and deployed in present day Papua New Guinea. As part of an attempt to neutralize the Japanese threat near the town of Buna, Benak’s unit attacked enemy defensive positions in northern Papua. Benak was reported as missing in action on Dec. 5, while on a combat patrol near Buna Creek.

Following the war, the American Graves Registration Service (AGRS), the military unit responsible for investigating and recovering missing American personnel in the Pacific Theater, conducted exhaustive searches of battle areas and crash sites in New Guinea, concluding their search in late 1948. A set of remains, initially found in 1944 near where Benak was killed, could not be positively identified, and he was later declared non-recoverable September 1949.

The unidentified remains from Papua New Guinea were eventually interred as Unknowns at Fort McKinley Cemetery, now Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Philippines.

DPAA predecessor organizations began researching and recovering service members from Papua New Guinea in 1995. In May 2012, Australian Defence Force personnel looking for unresolved casualties near Buna, observed an identification tag (“dog tag”) belonging to Cpl. Benak in the possession of a village leader at Buna. Years of investigation led to the disinterment of a set of remains from Manila American Cemetery, X-168 Finschhafen #2 in January 2017. The remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory for review and analysis.

To identify Benak’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (auSTR) analysis.

Benak’ name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

Cpl. Benak will be buried on April 13, 2024, in Miami, Florida.

For family and funeral information, contact the Army Casualty Office at (800) 892-2490.

DPAA is grateful to the American Battle Monuments Commission for their partnership in this mission. DPAA is also grateful to the Australian Defence Force for their steadfast support to help identify our unaccounted for members.

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, find us on social media at or

Benak’ personnel profile can be viewed at