US aircraft shot down during WWII discovered in the Pacific02/24/2020
After 76 years lost, these aircraft have been found.
A group called Project Recover has located two dive bombers and one torpedo bomber at the bottom of the Truk Lagoon, within the Federated States of Micronesia, over seven decades after they went missing in action during World War II.
It took the group — a nonprofit volunteer organization affiliated with the University of Delaware, among other institutions — four expeditions to the area over the course of two years to find the crafts’ remains.
While the vessels’ resting place is today known as Chuuk State and considered to be a premier diving destination, it was once a war zone.
At dawn on Feb. 17, 1944, the planes took off from the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Intrepid as part of the two-day Operation Hailstone. The operation was considered to be a huge win for the Americans, with more than 200 Japanese aircraft and 50 merchant vessels sunk and destroyed — but American aircraft and lives were still lost.
“Though a US victory, 23 American servicemen and 30 American Aircraft went missing in action in Truk Lagoon,” writes the University of Delaware in a press release.
Researchers spent 50 days surveying over 43 miles of seafloor before finding deep water debris fields containing the aircraft remains.
“While discovering these sites is exhilarating and validating, these feelings are mixed with the humbling emotions of the sacrifices made by these service members and their families in protecting our freedoms,” says Recover’s expedition leader, Mark Moline.
Now, the researchers hope to identify the remains of up to seven crew members who may have died aboard the aircraft. The lagoon is thought to contain the remains of an additional 103 World War II MIA’s, altogether affiliated with 28 planes.
“Project Recover is honored to play our part in keeping our nation’s promise of returning our fallen service members home and we remain committed to locating more Americans missing in action in Chuuk and around the world,” says retired US marine aviator and Project Recover CEO Derek Abbey.
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