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  F4F-4 Wildcat Bureau Number 12090  

Pilot  Lt(jg) Irvin E. Rink, O-116953 USNR (MIA / KIA) Maize, KS
MIA  August 4, 1943

Pilot History
Rink was born on July 13, 1918, in Dixon County, Nebraska. When he was 10, the family moved to a farm near Maize, Kansas. He graduated the University of Kansas class of 1940 with a degree in petroleum engineering and participated in the Civilian Pilot Training Course and learned to fly.

Aircraft History
Built by Grumman Corporation in Bethpage, New York as a model G-36 with manually operated folding wings. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4F-4 Wildcat bureau number 12090.

Wartime History
Assigned to USS Suwannee (CVE-27) to Fighting Squadron Twenty-Seven "Kangaroos" (VF-27). No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On August 4, 1943 took off from the Russell Islands piloted by Lt(jg) Irvin E. Rink as one of eight Wildcats on a mission to escort a PBY Catalina over Enogai on New Georgia Island. As the Catalina attempted to land, the formation was intercepted by Japanese aircraft and this Wildcat was never seen again. When it failed to return this aircraft was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). Also lost was F4F Wildcat 12139 piloted by Ens William T. Clifton (MIA).

This Wildcat crashed upside down with the landing gear extended into the sea off northwest coast of New Georgia Island near Bauroko. Reportedly, this aircraft was initially located by a Solomon Islander named Taske while diving for sea creatures.

In March 2008, Mark Roche, photographed the wreckage of an F4F Wildcat upside down on a coral reef at a depth of roughly 60' approximately 100 yards offshore. Near the tail, he located a canteen, bones and the sole of one of his shoes, headphones, goggles and the buckle from his chin strap.

Mark Roche via The Wichita Eagle "He went down in the Pacific in World War II"
"I looked down, and there was a Grumman Wildcat laying on its back with one landing gear extended. The water has a sky blue cast, which makes for a very tranquil scene. The ocean floor is covered with small chunks of coral and white sand.

Mark Roche via University Daily Kansan "The long journey home for a World War II veteran"
“I swam around the plane to survey it and as I was going around the tale I found a canteen laying on the tale, kind of sitting upright - obviously somebody had picked it up and put it there — then next to the canteen, I saw something shiny, and it was a snap that fits onto a canteen pouch, and then a few inches from that I saw a human rib, and another rib, and then kind of followed a bone trail under the tail”

Recovery of Remains
In March 2008, the human remains discovered near the tail section that were recovered and transferred to the U.S. Consulate in Honiara. Later, transported to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and placed into storage.

In February 2013, a team from Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) accepted possible remains from the crash site that were transported to Hawaii and consolidated the remains recovered in 2008.

During 2013, Rink's family was notified in 2013 that there was a possibility his remains might be identified. The recovered remains were tested by Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) against a family reference sample to match mitochondrial (mtDNA) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA.

On August 1, 2017 the Department of Defense (DoD) announced his remains had been identified using mitochondrial (mtDNA) and autosomal (auSTR) DNA, anthropological analysis and historical evidence.

Rink was officially declared dead on January 8, 1946. He earned the Purple Heart, posthumously. He is memorialized on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He is also memorialized at University of Kansas World War II memorial on the Campanile. On April 16, 2018 Rink was permanently buried at Maize Cemetery in Maize, K next to his parents.

Navy Serial Number Search Results - F4F-4 Wildcat 12090
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List August 1943 F4F-4 Wildcat 12090 VF-27 pilot Bink [sic Rink]
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Irvin E. Rink
"His name is permanently engraved on the "Walls of the Missing" at Manila American Cemetery"
FindAGrave - LTJG Irvin Edmund Rink (photos, tablets of the missing photo)
FindAGrave - LTJG Irvin Edmund Rink (photos, memorial marker photo)
Warbird Radio "Mark Roche’s Wildcat Story" December 15, 2010
DPAA "Funeral Announcement For Naval Aviator Missing From World War II (Rink, I.)" April 9, 2018
DPAA Sailor Killed During World War II Accounted For (Rink) August 1, 2017
The Wichita Eagle "He went down in the Pacific in World War II. Now, his remains are coming home to Kansas" April 6, 2018
University Daily Kansan "The long journey home for a World War II veteran memorialized in the Campanile"
Thanks to Mark Roche for additional information

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Last Updated
February 14, 2020


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