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The 2014 expedition ended on 15 April. You can read
daily reports posted while the team was in the field.

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. The answers to these questions 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. Photographing F4U wreckage in Ngeremlengui. © R. Joyce 2000. 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 POW/MIA Accounting 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 for, recover, and identify remains of American MIAs. POW-MIA FlagWhen 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 Naval History and Heritage Command, 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 here.

You can navigate through this site in a couple of ways.

  • If you're looking for information about a specific crash site, you can consult a table that includes details of most of the U.S. crash sites explored in Palau during BentProp expeditions over the past several years.
     
  • 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-sized chunks 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 the "flow."

Use the menu on the left to navigate to the destination of your choice.

March 2013

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 April.

August 2012

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 players.

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 wasting huge diving resources, we anticipate that three other groups will join us at various times during our 15 March - 15 April expedition.

The amazing 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.

April 2012

The 2012 expedition (P-MAN XIV) wrapped up in mid April. You can read regular progress reports submitted from the field here.

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.

We've finally posted the final reports for the missions in 2009 (P-MAN XI), 2010 (P-MAN XII), and 2011 (P-MAN XIIIa and XIIIb).

January 2012

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 constructed a tethered, 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 the ROV's video capability will allow us to examine these sites and decide which deserve further detailed exploration by divers.

Here's where you can listen to a radio interview with Bob Richards, the robotics program's teacher.

November 2011

Several members of the BentProp and History Flight teams, 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 was fought in late 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, where many landing craft were lost during the invasion in September 1944. It is believed that a substantial number of men lost their lives when these landing craft were sunk, and some of the craft may still contain remains.

March/April 2011

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.

February 2011

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.

June 2010

In June, Dan O'Brien and Jennifer Powers, who created the documentary "Last Flight Home," were interviewed on Blog Talk Radio by Simon Barrett. Here's where you can listen to this excellent interview.

May 2010

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 Weekley, 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.

One-click Arlington updates:

  • A slide show of the BentProp team visiting the Capital:


 

May 5: Here's an excellent MSNBC news piece on last Thursday's event at Arlington National Cemetery - by Lea Sutton:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

May 4: After a couple of days in western Pennsylvania, Joe flew on to Chelsea, Michigan with Flip Colmer in Flip's plane.

May 2- Joe Maldangesang rode with Reid by car from DC to Reid's home north of Pittsburgh, in western Pennsylvania. 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.

Here's where you can follow Joe as he makes his way westward. Check this link every couple of days - we'll update the page as Joe's adventure continues.

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.

Here's where you can see a few photos from the service at Arlington National Cemetery that happened last Thursday.

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. But Jack 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 his parents in Friendly. We'll also keep you posted as this event unfolds.

April 2010

April 29 - The group is leaving the hotel shortly for the service at Arlington National Cemetery honoring the return 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! What a reunion 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 roll by.

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 attendance at that funeral, and the deeper meaning of all such funerals.

Here's where you can read Tony's story.

The event 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 Group.

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 (he's never been in the U.S. before) as he takes the long way from DC back to Palau. It now appears that in brief visits with a number of team members, he'll return to Palau (in a mix of planes, trains, and automobiles) via Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, Memphis, Seattle, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Some of us are getting seriously jealous...

BentProp team 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 BentProp 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 2010

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 invited 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.

February 2010

The team left for Palau on 17 February, and they returned home on 12 March. During this year's trip, they located a Marine Corsair crash site in Ngatpang for which we've been searching for several years. While they were in Palau, they submitted regular progress reports, which you can read here.

January 2010

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 (NARA) research center in College Park, Maryland, 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).


Beth Rada, Pat Scannon, and Mark Swank review aerial photos
on light tables at NARA. Photo © Reid Joyce 2010

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!

We'll be taking the side-scan sonar to Palau on the 2010 expedition, scheduled 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 sophisticated, state-of-the-art 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.

December 2009

On 12 December a funeral service was held in Orlando, Florida for 2LT Jack Arnett, 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. It's anticipated that another portion 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 member 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 by JPAC. It is now anticipated that the rest of the '453's crew members who went down with the aircraft will be interred at a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on 29 April 2010. Here's where you can view some photos from the Arnett funeral.

November 2009

Here's a dramatic 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 her daughter 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. Here's where you can view some photographs from the funeral.

October 2009

A funeral for Sgt. Robert Stinson, fellow crew member of Jimmie Doyle and Earl Yoh was held in late October l for Robert Stinson, in Riverside, California.

May 2009

Flip Colmer, who took a ton of photographs at the Doyle and Yoh funerals (see below) has assembled 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 control.

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

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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 brothers, Gale (left, who 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 to 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 there will 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 Koror, Palau, named one 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 to palau 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 when you 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 grankids, He 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.

The 2009 expedition wrapped up on 12 March. While the team was in the field, we tried to post daily progress reports for the 2009 expedition.

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 of "Police Hill." Here's where you can read Mark's reports.

The Final Report for the 2008 expedition is finally complete. You can read it here.

The June 2008 issue of GQ Magazine includes an article by Wil Hylton that deals with the B-24 crash site that was located and identified by the BentProp team in 2004, and was the subject of three JPAC recovery missions over four years, finishing up in the first quarter of 2008. This site yielded the remains of airmen who went down with that aircraft on 1 September 1944. You can read about the process, the people involved in the search and recovery, and the family of one of those airmen in this moving article. This is a long article and a great read. You'll be handsomely rewarded if you read it all the way through to the end...

"Last Flight Home" is finally, lovingly completed. Six years in the making, this moving documentary about the BentProp Project by team members Jennifer Powers 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 work by the BentProp team.
 

   
 
 

Page last modified 16 March 2014
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