Remains of WWII soldier from Scottville identified

March 30, 2024

Frank Benak

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief

On February 2, 2024, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) identified the remains of Corporal Frank Vincent Benak of Scottville, missing from World War II.

Corporal Benak was the son of Vincent and Barbara Benak, immigrants from Yugoslavia who owned a dairy farm east of Scottville. He was born on May 17, 1918 and entered the U.S. Army in Michigan and served in Cannon Company, 128th Infantry Regiment, 32nd Infantry Division.

In late 1942, the division was engaged with Japanese forces around Buna, Papua New Guinea. American and Australian troops encountered harsh terrain and well concealed and entrenched defenders in their struggle to liberate this area from enemy control. On Dec. 5, 1942, Cpl Benak and another soldier were on a combat patrol near Buna Creek when they encountered enemy forces and came under fire. The other soldier was wounded and managed to return to friendly lines, but Benak was never seen again.

On Dec. 14, 1942, unidentified remains of an American soldier were buried at the Buna Village Cemetery. These remains were eventually transferred to the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.

The Jan. 9, 1943 edition of the Ludington Daily News reported that Benak had been reported missing. The article stated that his parents reported they had not heard from their son in about two weeks.

In May 2012, Australian Defense Force personnel looking for unresolved casualties near Buna observed an identification tag that belonged to Cpl Benak in the possession of a village leader. This discovery led to the disinterment of the unidentified remains from the Manila American Cemetery for further study. Laboratory analysis and the totality of the circumstantial evidence available established that the remains were those of Frank Benak.

Benak is memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. Benak was 24-years-old when he died.


Help us to keep writing stories like this one. Support local journalism. 

Support local news for $10 a month and receive daily email briefings.

We hope you enjoy reading Mason County Press and Oceana County Press. Our services are provided to you through the generous support of our advertisers. Traditional newspaper models require subscriptions or purchase of an individual newspaper in order to see their product. We do not, and will not, require our readers to pay a subscription. However, if you would like to support our service for a minimum of $10 a month, we will sign you up for daily email briefings and news alerts.

This can be paid several ways:

The easiest way is to sign up for an automatic monthly payment on Paypal. Click this link.

Alternative methods:

  • We can send you an invoice each month, which you can conveniently pay online or by check. If you are interested in this method, please email and we can sign you up. You can also mail a yearly check for $120 to Media Group 31, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454.
  • We also accept Venmo payments.

We appreciate all our readers regardless of whether they chose to continue to access our service for free or with a monthly financial support.

If you would like to support MCP/OCP but do not wish to receive daily emails, please consider sending a contribution to any of the above methods or pay by Venmo (@masoncountypress).  We appreciate all our readers regardless of whether they chose to continue to access our service for free or with a monthly financial support.


This story and original photography are copyrighted © 2024, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

As the services of Media Group 31, LLC are news services, the information posted within the sites are archivable for public record and historical posterity. For this reason it is the policy and practice of this company to not delete postings. It is the editor’s discretion to update or edit a story when/if new information becomes available. This may be done by editing the posted story or posting a new “follow-up” story. Media Group 31, LLC or any of its agents have the right to make any changes to this policy. Refer to Use Policy for more information.

Please consider helping to fund local news. Mason County Press and Oceana County Press are available for free thanks to the generous support of our advertisers and individuals. Three ways to help us: Venmo: @MasonCountyPress; Paypal:; Mail a check to PO BOX 21, Scottville, MI 49454.

Area Churches