WWII bomber found after 72 years

WWII Bomber Found In Pacific Ocean After 72 Years, MIA Crew’s Remains To Be Recovered

In 1944, a U.S. Navy bomber took off on a mission with three crew members on board, but they crashed. Now, 72 years later, the WWII bomber has been found on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and it is being investigated further in hopes of finding the remains of the three MIA crew members.

Reportedly, somewhere out over the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. Navy TBM-1C Avenger (like the one pictured above) came under enemy fire and lost a wing. Shortly after this, the aircraft crashed into the ocean, never to be heard from again.

Fast forward 72 years, and the WWII bomber has finally been found on the ocean floor.

An organization called Project RECOVER is responsible for the discovery in the waters surrounding the Pacific Islands of Palau.

Reportedly, the group, a blend of old-school archival research and the latest in sonar technology, has been searching for this and other WWIII planes for several years. Their main reason for searching, however, is not the planes themselves, but the remains of the crew that were manning them, missing in action for so many years.


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Dr. Eric Terrill of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego co-founded the Project RECOVER group. Terrill explained their mission to CNN, “This is more than reconnecting with history; it’s about locating the missing to enable the U.S. government to bring them home for a proper burial.”

According to CNN, the group’s search for the missing plane began several years ago and started with intensive research at the National Archives, followed by interviews with veterans and a search through old military photographs.

Using this process, the group eventually determined the approximate position where the WWII bomber went down; however, it was not exact enough for them to accurately pinpoint the location.

The next step was to use a side-scanner sonar, a piece of equipment used to detect objects on the sea floor.

Terrill said, “We put that on an underwater robot that is like a torpedo and it continuously goes back and forth over the area.”

“We essentially mow the lawn with this device.”

The scan went on for two months until suddenly the group finally had success. Terrill told CNN on Wednesday, “I just returned from the site yesterday.”

According to Fox News, once the group found the missing WWII bomber, the next step was to dive down and identify the plane.

That done, the Project RECOVER team’s next step is to hand over its findings to the U.S. government for them to carry out the recovery of the remains of the crew members.

Reportedly, the recovery will use the personal items of the missing crew members, including DNA, dog tags and dental records in order to identify them. Terrill went on to say that it is amazing that even remains that are 70-years-old can still have DNA extracted from them.

Project RECOVER’s work is not finished, however, as while they have been involved in six similar recovery missions over the last 5 years, there are many more still to perform.

Terrill explained that they have identified 100 cases worldwide that are suitable for their recovery work and that more than 200 families have reached out to them, requesting help to find their lost loved ones, still MIA.

[Photo TBM-1C Avenger plane via Wikimedia Commons by Valder137, cropped & resized/CC BY 2.0]

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