During World War II, many American airmen lost their
lives in the western Pacific, some in the western
Caroline Islands, in what is presently known as The Republic
of Palau. The ultimate fate of hundreds of these
men remains a mystery today. For more than a half century, families and
wingmen of airmen who were declared Missing In Action (MIA) have lived
with a painful lack of closure: they do not know exactly how and where
their loved ones died. If they could have such knowledge it might not eliminate
the pain of loss, but such knowledge can sometimes ease the emptiness and
silence the nightmares.
The only antidote for such painful lack of closure
is information. Unfortunately, the ocean
and jungles don't give up information about long-lost aircraft without
a struggle. The ocean can bury an aircraft under sand and silt, or gradually
envelop it in a shrine of coral. The
jungle, similarly, reclaims a wreck over the years by letting it sink into
the mud and be slowly covered by each year's bounty of leaves and vines.
Pursuing such mysteries, especially after the passage of so
many decades, is not easy. Random searching, above or below the ocean's surface,
can be a colossal waste of time. Directed searching using information gleaned
from archives can at least provide tentative boundaries for a search area
- but not always the correct one. By far the most fruitful approach is winning
the trust of people who live in an area, who are then willing to come forth
with information (and often express a willingness to be guides) leading to
sites that - to them - are just curiosities from a time long beyond their
recollection. Over several years, BentProp™ teams
have tried all three approaches.
That's what we do: we search the
waters and jungles of the western Pacific, in what we hope are intelligent
ways, for clues that may lead to the location and identification of wreck
sites and remains of men who gave their lives in defense of America.
On the question of remains: we share information with
- and greatly admire the efforts of - JPAC (the Joint
Command), which was formed by merging the 30-year-old U.S. Army
Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii (CILHI), and the 11-year-old Joint
Task Force - Full Accounting. These are the folks who assemble and deploy teams
to places like Europe, Korea, and Vietnam - and recently, to Palau - to look
and identify remains of American MIAs. When
we (the BentProp team) discover a site that may still contain remains, JPAC,
which has the world's largest forensic laboratory, has the resources (e.g., DNA
analysis) to extend the scientific analysis of the site and seek positive identification
of remains. We also notify relevant armed services' historical agencies, including
the US Naval Historical Center, the US Marine Historical Research Center and
the US Air Force Historical Research Agency. We also inform air reunion groups
that flew over Palau, including the VMF (Marine Fighter Squadron)- 114, VMF-121,
VMF-122, 494th BG(H) (Bombardment Group (Heavy)) of the 7th Army Air Force and
the 307th BG(H) of the 13th Army Air Force. Finally - and perhaps most importantly
- we share information with families of missing airmen, as the information is
obtained and confirmed.
About this Web site
The BentProp Web site is intended to make available information
that the various teams have accumulated since Pat Scannon first
realized that he was in this pursuit for the long haul. Other team members
have contributed both to the expeditions and to the information contained
You can navigate through this site in a couple of ways.
The menu at the left side of each page
is designed to give you direct access to
various collections of information that live on this site. Just click the
links, and explore the collections.
There are also several fair-sizedchunks
of pages that tell a story - for example, there are detailed, individual
reports on several P-MAN expeditions. "Forward" and "Back" buttons
are provided at the top and bottom of pages within such chunks to allow
you to move in a straight line through the story, if you wish to follow
Please note that you can view the caption
for any illustration by simply touching the illustration with your cursor.
Use the menu on the left to navigate to the destination
of your choice.
...just go to our Facebook page and click "Like"
Planning for the 2013 expedition
(P-MAN XV) is nearly complete. We have submitted a detailed proposal
to U.S. and Palauan authorities
that lays out specific objectives and planned search areas and defines
the period of the expedition and the makeup and qualifications of this
year's team. Here's where you can read an
unclassified version of that proposal.
The 2013 trip is planned to run from 15 March through 15
We held a planning meeting for the 2013 expedition at Flip
Colmer's house in Michigan. The prime topic for discussion was the need
for careful logistic planning and execution among the various potential
As of this month, we anticipate that
the 2013 expedition will be almost
entirely a water mission. Over the past couple of years we've conducted
extensive side-scan sonar (SSS) surveys in several areas in Palau,
and analysis of the SSS data has identified a number of "targets
of interest" - objects that could possibly be MIA-related aircraft
parts, and which warrant further investigation. The problem is that most
of these unknown
objects of interest are in water that's sufficiently deep to make it
impractical to send divers to each area to locate and explore all of
these objects. Toward the end of getting eyes on these objects without
huge diving resources, we anticipate that three other groups will join
us at various times during our 15 March - 15 April expedition.
and well coached group from the Stockbridge (Michigan) Advanced Underwater Robotics program
is plannng to assist us again this year,
with a new and improved (and more reliable) underwater remotely operated
vehicle (ROV). We will also be joined for part of the time
by a group
from the USS Silversides Submarine Museum in
Muskegon, Michigan, who will
also be brining a professional suite of remotely operated vehicles.
Finally, there's a possibility that we will also be able to overlap
with a team
from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in
La Jolla, California, and get some assistance from one of their "autonomous
underwater vehicles," unmanned vehicles that can be programmed
to go off on their own and conduct detailed surveys in specified
areas. Wow. Check back here for
more information on these resources as plans develop.
Here's the most recent photo of the Stockbridge ROV team:
Bob Richards, who runs Stockbridge
High School's Advanced Underwater Robotics program and who accompanied
his team as they joined us
at the midpoint of this year's expedition in Palau, recently
did a radio interview with a Michigan station. Here's
where you can listen to the interview.
Accompanying the BentProp team for
a portion of our spring 2012 Palau trip will be a team of high-school
students from Stockbridge
(Michigan) High School's robotics program. These talented
young folks, under the direction of their teacher Bob Richards, have
underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) that can be steered
underwater and includes a couple of video cameras. The Stockbridge
team will be
assisting BentProp in investigating a number of potential underwater
crash sites that we located last year during our extensive survey using
side-scan sonar. The depth of many of these sites is close to the limit
of conventional SCUBA, which would make it impractical
for a small team like ours to initially explore all of them by diving. Using
allow us to examine these sites and decide which deserve further detailed
exploration by divers.
Several members of the BentProp and
under the generous sponsorship of History Flight, are planning to travel
to the Tarawa atoll (in the Republic of Kiribati
in the central Pacific) in early November to try out some new
underwater search techniques in anticipation of using those techniques
next year in Palau. They'll be using a towed magnetometer to try to map
the locations of a large number of landing craft that were sunk in the
lagoon north of the island of Betio, during the battle of Tarawa, which
November 1943. If the techniques look promising, next year's BentProp
expedition may try to employ them in a similar fashion in Palau, on
the west side of Peleliu,
many landing craft were lost during the invasion in September 1944.
that a substantial number of men lost their lives when these landing
craft were sunk, and some of the craft may
still contain remains.
The second 2011
mission (P-MAN XIIIb) has begun, with the arrival in Palau of the first
team member (Derek
Abbey) the evening of 15 March. He'll be followed shortly by the others,
some of whom (in addition to Derek) will be contributing their thoughts
and reports over the course of the month-long mission. You
can read P-MAN XIIIb progress reports here.
We also want to express our deep
gratitude to History
Flight, a non-profit organization founded by BentProp
team member Mark Noah, for providing
a generous donation to us to cover some of the costs of our 2011 mission.
The first of two 2011
missions to Palau, 1-17 February, will be conducted by four team members.
This mission will be devoted entirely to underwater Side-Scan
Sonar (SSS) surveys, to collect data on target areas of interest in
preparation for the second mission (19 March through 15 April), which
will be conducted by nine team members. You
can read preliminary plans and progress reports here.
On Saturday, 15
May, a service
was held in West Virginia for Jack Arnett.
A long procession started at the Myers Funeral Home in Sistersville,
and followed the Ohio river
a few miles south to Friendly, then up the hill to the Friendly Cemetery.
The weather was perfect, and there was a huge turnout. Frannie
Regent of the DAR, addressed the gathering. She introduced a number
of speakers including members of Jack's family and
West Virginia State Representative Roger Romine, who read a proclamation
by the Governor directing that flags in West Virginia be flown
at half staff today in honor of Jack Arnett. There was a huge turnout
of Patriot Guard and Legion Guard riders, and a dramatic low pass by
a West Virginia Air National Guard C-130.
May 4: After a couple of days in western Pennsylvania,
Joe flew on to Chelsea, Michigan with Flip Colmer in Flip's plane.
Joe Maldangesang rode with Reid by car from DC to Reid's home north of Pittsburgh, in
Thus began what we'll call JUST 2010: Joe's
U.S. Tour, 2010. We've asked the various team members with whom Joe will
be visiting (as he works his way across the continent to California)
to send some photos for us to post here. So check back periodically and
follow Joe's adventure.
May 1 - Most of us aren't home from Arlington yet, but
I wanted to get a small set of photos out for you to see. I'll add some
thoughts and maybe some more photos after I get home (with Joe) later
in the weekend.
In December, several BentProp team
members attended the Orlando funeral of Jack Arnett, the pilot of
B-24 #42-73453. His story
isn't completely over, though. In the Orlando service, a portion of
Jack's cremated remains were interred beside those of his brother.
grew up in West Virginia, and in a small cemetery on a hill overlooking
the tiny Ohio-River village of Friendly, West Virginia, there are three
headstones: those of Jack's father and mother, and one for Jack that
was placed there in 1946, long before either of his parents passed
away. On 15 May, the rest of Jack's crremains will be interred beside
posted as this event unfolds.
April 29 - The
group is leaving the hotel shortly for the service at Arlington National
of the crew of B-24
#42-73453. No guarantee about their plans for assembling and airing the
story, but we understand that NBC will be covering the Arlington event
this morning, and our reception that will follow. So if you don't have
anything better to do this evening, you might watch the NBC news...
April 26 -
Joe Maldangesang, who's never been in the states before, arrived in
DC this afternoon from
Palau. EVERY TEAM MEMBER who's been to Palau knows Joe - but there
are actually some BentProp team members who've never met each other!
this is gonna be! More of us arrive tomorrow, some late, and some others
arrive Wednesday. Many of us are staying at the State Plaza Hotel
in DC, just across the river from Arlington. Hoo, boy. I'll try to
keep this site updated, and the Facebook page, too, as the week's activities
As we approach the anniversary of
the funeral for B-24 '453 crew member Earl Yoh, we received a note
from Air Force MSgt Tony Johnston, who sent a beautifully
written story that reflects on his
at that funeral, and the deeper meaning of all such funerals.
at Arlington National Cemetery,
honoring all of the crew members of B-24 #42-73453, will be held at
1100 on 29 April 2010. There will be
a service at the Old Post Chapel, followed by a procession to the
interment site. After the ceremony, there will be an invitation-only
reception hosted jointly by BentProp and the 307th BG(H) Reunion
On the Sunday following the Arlington
event, Joe Maldangesang, whom we've arranged to attend all the way
from Palau, will begin a serious adventure. We're working on a way
you can track Joe's progress
as he takes
long way from
DC back to Palau. It now appears that in
with a number of team members, he'll return to Palau (in a mix
of planes, trains, and automobiles) via Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Memphis,
Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Some of
are getting seriously jealous...
member Mark Swank gets a large part of the
credit for researching and for the team's ultimately finding what we
believe to be the execution and burial site of three American airmen
who bailed out of their stricken B-24 on 1 September 1944. Those three
won't be buried alongside their eight other fellow crewmembers in the
ceremony at Arlington later this month, but we've learned that family
members of at least one of those three men who are still waiting to be
found will be attending the Arlington event. Mark, a civilian employee
of a three-letter government agency, has just left for a deployment far
from home. Here's his response on hearing that news:
" I wish I could have met the ... family. Please
pass along to them that not a day goes by that I don't watch my email
for some confirmation from
JPAC about a future Police Hill recovery mission. I am confident
that Johnny will come home. Also, please pass along to everybody at
that I made it to Afghanistan in one piece and
am beginning to settle into my new job. I'll be back in the States
for 2 weeks in October and
then back to AF for a final 6 months."
March has been busy with plans for a
big event in late April at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). The families
of all eight of the
crew members who were recovered from the underwater crash site of B-24
#42-73453 have been
to a group ceremony and interment at ANC on 29 April 2010. Many BentProp
team members from around the country are planning to attend, and it looks
like we're even going to be able to bring our long-time team member and
master guide Joe Maldangesang from Palau!
Stay tuned as plans firm up for the big ANC event.
The week after the SSS training session (see below),
several team members (Pat Scannon, Beth Rada, Mark Swank, Katie Rasdorf,
and Reid Joyce) spent a couple of days (28-29 Jan) at the National
Archives and Records Administration
center in College
reviewing photographic and textual information related to the targets
that we've selected for 2010: a Corsair that crashed in the mountainous
area southwest of Ngeremeduu Bay (which we also sometimes call Ngatpang
Bay), and the (probably) underwater crash site of the fourth and final
B-24 that was shot down on a mission to Koror (we've now found and
documented the other three B-24s).
Several team members attended a 1.5-day
training session on 19 and 20 January on operation of the Marine
Sonic "Sea Scan" side-scan sonar device. You
can read about the SSS training session here. In a spectacular
expression of support, Marine Sonic has donated one of their SSS
devices to the BentProp team!
be taking the side-scan sonar to Palau on the 2010
for 18 February - 12 March. We hope to be able to do some extensive
underwater surveys in areas of interest - this time using far more
technology than we've been able to use to date. You'll be able to track
the 2010 expedition's progress by reading the daily
progress reports that we'll try to post while the team is in the field.
On 12 December a
funeral service was held in Orlando, Florida for
the pilot of B-24 '453, whose underwater crash site the BentProp
team located and identified in January 2004, after a 10-year search.
A portion of Arnett's cremated remains were buried during this service.
anticipated that another
of the remains will be buried in a service next spring, next to the
graves of Arnett's parents in Friendly, West Virginia. BentProp team
Mark Noah (who
is also founder of History
Flight) arranged to do a flyover
in his foundation's B-25H "Barbie III," and later took some
of the family members for a flight in that aircraft. Jack Arnett's
funeral was the fourth individual family ceremony held to date among
the eight men recovered from
the '453 crash site
JPAC. It is
now anticipated that the rest of the '453's crew members who went
down with the aircraft
a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on 29 April 2010. Here's
where you can view some photos from the Arnett funeral.
twist to a story that those
of you who've seen the documentary "Last
Flight Home" will recall. In the film, there are interviews
with family members of the crew of a TBM that was shot down on
Peleliu in September
1944, which we located and identified in 2003. The aircraft was
flown by Donald Baxter, and carried
crew members Wesley
Stuart and Arthur Miller. After
the war, only the Stuart family received remains recovered on Peleliu
- and although Wesley Stuart's mother promised to care for the
remains, she never truly believed that they were the remains of
her son. Following
a 2005 JPAC mission to the site that failed to recover remains
of any crew members, Mrs.Stuart's intuition was validated when
Mary Ellen had the remains exhumed, and DNA testing confirmed that
the remains could not be those of Wesley. In April 2008, JPAC and
the Navy did a full honor-guard ceremony to retrieve the remains
and casket, which were flown to Hawaii for DNA identification.
In early October
2009, JPAC confirmed that the remains were identified as those
of Wesley's fellow crew member, Arthur Miller. BentProp team members
Pat Scannon, Derek Abbey, and Reid Joyce attended Arthur C. Miller's
full military funeral in Poughkeepsie, New York on 7 November.
you can view some photographs from the funeral.
A funeral for Sgt.
fellow crew member of Jimmie Doyle and Earl Yoh was held in
late October l for Robert Stinson, in Riverside, California.
who took a ton of photographs at the Doyle and Yoh funerals (see below)
them into a couple
of moving slide-show tributes to these
young men. Note that you should be able to watch the videos in
full-screen mode either by right-clicking the screen and selecting "Toggle
full screen" or by clicking the little square icon in the lower
right of the player gizmo, next
to the volume
Join us in remembering Jimmie Doyle
The voice on Jimmie's video, and the author of the song
and the lyrics, is Col. Mike Lembke, III Corps and Ft. Hood chaplain,
U.S. Army, who conducted Jimmie's service. The young Marine Captain sitting
with Tommy and Nancy at the graveside service is their son Casey, who
escorted his grandfather's remains home from JPAC in Honolulu.
Join us in remembering Earl Yoh
The song on Earl's video is the one selected by Earl's family
to be played at the funeral service. Earl was one of 13 siblings. The
two gentlemen in the front row at the graveside service are Earl's twin
received the flag) and Dale - the last surviving of Earl's siblings.
JPAC has reported
that their three recovery missions (in 2005, 2006, and
2008) to the underwater crash
site of B-24 '453 were a total success! They
recovered remains of all eight crew members who went
down with this aircraft
on 1 September 1944. Five of the crew members were positively
identified, but they have insufficient structural and DNA information
make positive identifications of the other three. JPAC knows who the
three are, they just can't tell which is which. So we understand that
be a group
service for those three, who will be buried together at Arlington National
Cemetery. When we have information about that group event at Arlington,
we'll post the information here.
On 25 April 2009, Jimmie Doyle,
the nose gunner on B-24 '453, was laid to rest in a full military
funeral in Lamesa, Texas. Many of you
may recall that BentProp team member Joe Maldangesang, who lives in
of his sons
Doyle. One of the most moving parts of the funeral service was when
Tommy Doyle (Jimmie's son) read the following note from Joe:
"The other day, Doyle asked me, why is his name
Doyle, so i told him that during wwII, a very special man by the name
of Jimmy Doyle, flew
on airplane to help defend Palau from Japanese and he died protecting
us, and he was a very special man, and because he was special to us
and we loved
him, mom and i decided to give his last name to you so although his
not with us anymore, you will carry his name and legacy until one day
get married and have kids and then you can tell your kids the story
of your name. And by sharing the story of your name to your kids and
will never be forgotten and his legacy lives on with us forever."
On 9 May, Earl Yoh,
also a crew member on B-24 '453, was laid to rest in a family service
in Van Wert, Ohio.
And now that Mark
Swank is home from Palau, he's begun submitting a series of
POW Site reports describing the land team's efforts in the vicinity
Hill." Here's where you can read Mark's
Flight Home" is finally, lovingly completed. Six years in the making,
this moving documentary about the BentProp Project by team members Jennifer
and Dan O'Brien is now available Here's
where you can check out the film, view a trailer, and order a copy. Some
of the proceeds from sale of "Last Flight Home" go to support ongoing
the BentProp team.