THIS CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN CLOSED
Organized by: deleted deleted
February 19, 2018
The Kwajalein Missing-In-Action (MIA) Project is an all volunteer team of advanced divers, researchers, historians, archaeologists and other professionals who devote their free time in searching the Central Pacific region of Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands for American missing-in-action related aircraft crashes from World War II.
Our all-volunteer team, several of whom are retired military, their families and contractors spend their free off-duty hours searching for missing-in-action servicemembers from WWII who crashed in our lagoon. We utilize side scan sonar to scan the lagoon bottom, providing us "targets of interest" to dive to either confirm or rule out the location of an aircraft. If an aircraft is confirmed, that information is then sent to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) for possible recovery and repatriation of these heroes so that they can finally go home to their families after over 70 years.
Thus far, the team has had several success stories- in 2009 several former Kwajalein residents found and verified the PBM-3D 'Mariner' in which LT (jg) Wilburne Ennis Piercy perished on 16 FEB 1944; in 2011 the F6F-3 ‘Hellcat’ in which Ensign John Clem perished on 1 FEB 1944 was found; in October 2015 we verified the discovery of the nose section of a PB2Y-5R 'Coronado' in which LT Harold Bowman and LCDR Samuel Givens perished on Feb. 12, 1945; and in August 2017 we discovered the wreckage of a PB2Y-3 'Coronado' in which PhM1c Fred M. Matson perished. Piercy, Clem, Bowman, Givens, and Matson were never recovered.
There are at least 8 known aircraft with 11 missing-in-action servicemembers within the Kwajalein Atoll lagoon. Thus far, four of the eight planes have been found in Kwajalein lagoon, leaving four that still need to be found. We are halfway to our goal of finding all of them!
In addition, we are in contact with family members of our missing-in-action servicemen, some of whom are sons and daughters, as well as a few World War II veterans who were part of these actions. The window of opportunity to find these planes, in time to bring these family members and veterans closure, is closing fast.
Due to Kwajalein’s status as a small and remote military installation, normal fundraising efforts for non-profits are limited. We need your help to meet ongoing expenses, such as the cost of renting boats through the local marina, and spare parts for our sonar equipment.
We are at the end of a long supply line, and it is difficult to ship to Kwajalein due to postal restrictions. It can take weeks for parts to arrive, and the lack of spare parts will impede and delay operations.
The Kwajalein MIA Project is a sub-committee of American Legion Post #44 on Kwajalein, which is a 501(c)(19) tax-exempt organization. Your donation to this project is tax-deductible, and goes directly into a bank account set up by Post #44 specifically for this project. In addition, our members live and work on Kwajalein Atoll, so we have no overhead costs such as airline flights or hotel costs. All funds go directly into the project.
We know your dedication to our military, and that of servicemembers who are missing-in-action and hope you can assist us with the funds needed for ongoing operations, so that we can facilitate bringing these men home to their families after more than 70 years.
PLANE WRECKS WITH MIA's THAT STILL NEED TO BE FOUND INCLUDE:
LT. William B. Fitch and ARM3c John A. Linson ( 4 DEC 1943) On December 4, 1943 a major raid was undertaken at Kwajalein Atoll by a US Navy task force. It was intended as a softening-up attack in advance of Operation Flintlock, the invasion of the atoll scheduled for the following month. One of the planes taking part in the raid was a SBD-5 'Dauntless' from Bombing Squadron 16 (VB-16), flying from the USS Lexington (CV-16). Fitch and Linson were taking part in the dive-bombing of a Japanese Navy cruiser, IJN Isuzu, which had been caught at anchor near Roi island at the north end of Kwajalein Atoll. During the bombing dive against the cruiser, their plane was believed to be hit by enemy anti-aircraft fire. The plane was seen pulling out of its dive at very low altitude, and then it rolled over onto its back and crashed into the lagoon. Both LT. Fitch and ARM3c Linson are still listed as missing-in-action.
LT. Forney O. Fuqua (31 JAN 1944) The USS New Mexico launched two Kingfisher scouting planes on January 31 1944, for a gunfire spotting mission over Ebeye Island in Kwajalein Atoll. One of them, piloted by LT. Forney O. Fuqua and carrying radioman ARM2c Harrison D. Miller, was hit at 1522 hours by enemy Anti-Aircraft (AA) fire. The plane came down directly west of Loi Island. Harrison was rescued by the USS YMS-383, which took the plane under tow but sank shortly afterward. Miller was rescued but Fuqua sank with the plane, still in the cockpit. Fuqua is still listed as missing-in-action.
ARM2c Phillip S. Barton (1 FEB 1944) On February 1, 1944 three SBD-5 'Dauntless' dive bombers were involved in a mid-air collision with each other over Kwajalein Atoll during Operation Flintlock. The fatal collision resulted in the deaths of four air crewmen. Two of the SBD's involved were from the USS Suwanee (CVE-27). The air crewman missing from the USS Suwanee is ARM2c Phillip S. Barton (rear gunner). The third SBD involved in the collision was from the USS Chenango (CVE-28). The only details we have so far come from the Suwanee's report, which states the planes "collided at 7,500 feet and fell into the lagoon. The USS Phelps picked up the pilot of the Chenango plane and the gunner from one of ours; the fate of the other men is unknown." Later research showed that Barton is the sole MIA from this incident.
This one is unique, in that all three planes involved were SBD's. There will be no way to tell which SBD came from which ship, so we will need to find all three planes and report their locations to DPAA, and they will need to excavate all three wreck sites to determine which one contains the remains of ARM2c Barton.
ENS W.J. Sayers and CPT G.W. Tyson (1 FEB 1944) On February 1, 1944 a SOC-3A ‘Seagull’ scout biplane was launched from the USS Minneapolis (CA-36). The plane was part of VCS-6, and its mission was to perform gunfire spotting for U.S. Army artillery teams on Carlson Island, set up to shell Kwajalein Island in support of invasion operations during Operation Flintlock. At approximately 1002, while performing the assigned mission the plane accidentally flew into the line of fire from Carlson, and was struck by a howitzer shell meant for a target on Kwajalein Island. The plane burst into flames and crashed into the lagoon. On board were Ensign W.J. Sayers, USN, pilot, and Captain G.W. Tyson, USA, who was flying as the artillery spotter. Both men went down with the plane, and were subsequently listed as Missing in Action.
You can get full access to photos, videos and summarized reports on our Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/kwajaleinmiaproject/.
We also have a website at http://www.kwajaleinmiaproject.us.