P-MAN XII Progress Report #17 - Report-writing torch passes to Derek; important find at crash site
08 March 2010

[With Flip's departure last night, Derek (and maybe others) begins to assum field-reporter duties]

Lessons learned:

  1. All good plans change once you begin!
    [This is a variation on another BentProp motto: "A plan is not a plan until it's too late to change."
    - Reid]

Flip left last night. He had to head home early for work [as an airline pilot], so we will have to complete the rest of this mission without him. He submitted a report for yesterday from Tokyo, but I’ll give you a quick run down, too. We spent the majority of the day interacting with the leadership of Palau. The President was interested in seeing one of the sites that BentProp has discovered, involving the execution and burial of American Prisoners of War and Jesuit missionaries working in Palau. The President and several of his cabinet hiked with us into the jungle to see the site and offer his thoughts. Afterward we cleaned up and met for an early dinner that included one of the Paramount Chiefs of Palau as well. It was a successful day and we feel that a lot was learned on both sides.

So after yesterday's mostly political interactions, it was time for the team to get back to the jungle to work on our newly discovered crash site. We've located quite a few pieces and we know that it was American. We also had thoughts about whose crash site it is, but we still needed proof. We were still missing some key piece that would identify the aircraft type.

Our plan was to go back to the jungle today and continue to map the debris field and clean off some of the exposed parts of the airplane in search of any identifying numbers or letters. The Army CAT agreed to join us for the day. Five of their team met us for today’s journey into the jungle. We briefed our plan in detail at breakfast and again to the CAT before we headed into the jungle for the day.

After an uneventful drive and hike to the crash site we split into groups to continue searching and cleaning. Mike was running the cleaning of pieces today and asked Joe if he could take a bucket to a stream down the hill to get some water. Joe walked down the hill toward the stream and a short time later let us know that he had found a rather large piece of aircraft. We all rushed down the hill to take a look at the piece. JACKPOT!!! We found the piece that identifies the aircraft type. With the information gained from this we have enough information to turn over to JPAC for a possible recovery mission.

Warren explaining identifying characteristics of piece to the Army CAT.

Post-jungle mission with friends from Army DET CAT 130-01
Front row, kneeling: PFC David Viera, electrician; SPC Josh Permenter, heavy equipment operator; Paul Schwimmer; MAJ Warren Bruce, USMC.
Back row, standing: Joe Maldangesang, SPC Dana McNulty, plumber; SPC Ankie Crisostomo, mechanic; 1LT Chris Gensler, OIC; Mike Raible; Pat Scannon; MAJ Derek Abbey, USMC

So our detailed planning went out the window when we discovered what we needed within five minutes. We certainly weren’t going to waste a day in the jungle, though. We spent the rest of the day searching for more evidence and documenting the site. One thing interesting was we had information from both the Japanese and the Americans that we were using to search for this airplane. The American information led us to believe that the plane was on one side of a valley and the Japanese a different side. What we didn’t realize was that they both could be right. This debris field is spread across quite a bit of terrain.

It was another successful day for the team. So after getting out of the jungle we headed to the Drop Off for a celebratory poke and drink.

Warren with poke at Neco's Drop Off.

Back to work tomorrow!

- Derek

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