Monday, May 29, 2017

San Diego Oceanographers Track Down Two Missing WWII Bombers




San Diego researchers have helped locate two missing B-25 bombers that went missing during World War Two.

The discovery was made by Project Recover, an effort launched in 2012 to track down aircraft associated with American service members who went missing in action.

Researchers recently found two B-25 bombers off the coast of Papua New Guinea. One plane was connected with six men, one who went down with the plane and five who were captured as prisoners.

"Through this, it has sort of reinvigorated my interest in U.S. history," said Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientist Eric Terrill, one of the project's founders.

He said discoveries like this have special significance on days like Memorial Day.

"Because we're focused on MIAs, we really are focused on that closure aspect — that recognition aspect. So it is a very humbling program to be part of," Terrill said.

Project Recover relies on historical documents and knowledge from islanders to narrow down its search, and then deploys underwater robots to find the final resting places of WWII aircraft.

The planes can be difficult to spot — they're often significantly dismantled, partially buried under the sea floor or overgrown with corals and other sea life.

"One of the things that makes it so exciting for me, and so rewarding, is that we are bringing together these different disciplines," said Terrill. "Underwater technology, search technology as well as history, archival work as well as interviewing locals."

The project is a partnership between Scripps, the University of Delaware and a nonprofit organization BentProp, Limited. 

Story and audio:  http://www.kpbs.org

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