The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that U.S. Army Pvt. Robert J. Herynk, 27, of Hanover, Kansas, killed during World War II, was accounted for Sept. 29, 2021.
In the fall of 1942, Herynk was assigned to K Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division. His unit was part of the effort to cut off the Japanese supply and communications line coming from their beachhead at Sanananda Village, Territory of Papua, on the island of New Guinea. K Company attempted to work their way behind enemy lines.
And, on Nov. 26, was part of a coordinated attack against Japanese defenses that would lead to the Huggins Roadblock being established a few days later. Herynk was listed as killed in action on the earliest casualty reports and was reported to have been buried near Buna, New Guinea.
Following the war, the American Graves Registration Service, the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, conducted exhaustive searches of battle areas and crash sites in New Guinea, concluding their search in late 1948. Investigators could not find any evidence of Herynk. He was declared non-recoverable Dec. 19, 1949.
In March 1943, remains of an unidentified U.S. Soldier were recovered near the Soputa-Sanananda Track, but had no visible means of identification. Those remains were buried at a temporary cemetery in Sanananda. They were later disinterred and moved three times until being designated Unknown X-1547 Manila Mausoleum and buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Philippines on Jan. 18, 1950.
Between 1995 and 2012, DPAA predecessor organizations recovered four men from the Huggins Roadblock area, but found no trace of Herynk. DPAA historians and anthropologists later conducted a multidisciplinary review of Unknown and casualty files, and recommended disinterment of the Unknowns associated with the campaign to neutralize Japanese positions at Buna and Sanananda. X-1547 was disinterred in January 2017 and sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for examination and analysis.
To identify Herynk’s 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) analysis.
Herynk’s name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Philippines, along with others still missing from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.
Herynk will be buried Nov. 11, 2021, in his hometown.