19-Year-Old Michigan Airman from World War II Accounted For by DPAA

A Michigan Airman who was killed during World War II was accounted for in mid-January, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

U.S. Army Air Forces Staff Sgt. Adolph “Leonard” Olenik, 19, of Detroit, was assigned to the 345th Bombardment Squadron, 98th Bombardment Group, 9th Air Force in the summer of 1943.

On Aug. 1, 1943, a B-24 Liberator plane where Olenik was serving as a gunner crashed because of enemy fire during Operating TIDAL WAVE, the largest bombing mission against oil fields and refineries at Ploiesti, north of Bucharest, Romania.

Olenik’s remains were not identified after the war, and were buried with other “unknowns” in the hero section of the Civilian and Military Cemetery in Bolovan, Ploiesti, Prahova, Romania.

After World War II, the American Graves Registration Command, the organization that searched for and recovered fallen American personnel, dug up all American remains from the Bolovan Cemetery for identification, but were unable to identify more than 80 “unknowns” from the cemetery.

Those remains were permanently buried at Ardennes American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Belgium.

In 2017, the DPAA began exhuming remains believed to be connected to unaccounted-for airmen from Operation TIDAL WAVE. Those remains were sent to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska for examination.

Through dental, anthropological and chest radiograph analysis, along with DNA, Y chromosome DNA and autosomal DNA analysis, Olenik’s remains were identified Jan. 26.

Olenik’s name is recorded on the Tablets of the Missing at the Florence American Cemetery, which is an American Battle Monuments Commission site in Impruneta, Italy, along with others still missing from World War II.

A rosette will be placed next to Olenik’s name to show that he has been accounted for, and Olenik will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.