You are here: Home | 2009 Search Trip | Maj. William Jr. Clay's VMF-121 FG-1 Corsair Located

Maj. William Jr. Clay's VMF-121 FG-1 Corsair Located

On November 21, 1944 Maj. William Jr. Clay's FG-1 Corsair flying from his VMF-121 base on Peleliu crashed on Yap Island while strafing barges. His plane crashed in a mangrove swamp and his body was pulled from the plane by the Japanese. The Japanese had the Yapese bury his body in the village near the crash site. His body was recovered after the war and buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The villagers still refer to the pilot named, William, who crashed in the mangrove near their village. We originally seared for Maj. Clay's plane in 2006 without knowing it was his plane. We had heard rumors of an American plane in a mangrove. In 2006 we located a R-2800 engine and assumed it was from a F6F-5 Hellcat. However, since 2006 my researching of all the planes shot down over Yap provided me information that the engine was likely from Maj. Clay's Corsair due to the location of the engine. We searched for the fuselage wreckage in 2006 without success. In 2009 we returned with help of additional Yapese to search for the wreckage. After climbing through the a mangrove swamp with numerous people we located the wreckage of a FG-1 Corsair that is likely the plane that Maj. Clay was lost in on November 21, 1944. Maj. Clay was the highest ranking American shot down over Yap. I have additional information about including pictures posted at the following link.

Please feel free to send comments and questions to Pat Ranfranz: pat@missingaircrew.com

Click on a thumbnail image below to view the full sized image.

July 2011 Update: The following pictures show the new access stone path through the mangrove that the village is setting up to the wreckage. At the end of this new access path they will construct an elevated walkway to the crash site through the mangrove.

The following pictures are of the crash site located in 2009:


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