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Missing Air Crew Project, Yap Island Search Trip, Sept 2006

Patrick Ranfranz reviewing wreckage on Yap Island
Patrick Ranfranz reviewing wreckage on Yap Island.
September 2006
We returned to Yap Island from September 15-29, 2006 to continue our search for my uncle’s crew and the other American men lost on missions during WWII. This year’s trip was a follow-up to the week we spent on Yap in October 2005 searching for my uncle’s plane (the Coleman B-24 crew). Although we did not locate my uncle’s plane last year, we had a very successful trip in 2005 that resulting in the discovery of numerous American and Japanese crash/wreck sites. We returned home in the fall of 2005 energized to research all the American losses over Yap Island. After a long year of research and help from numerous sources, we returned to Yap in September 2006 with comprehensive historic research about all the missing men and planes. In addition, two families from other missing crews joined us on Yap this year. Once again we spent an exhausting few weeks searching for planes in the water, land, and mangrove swamps. Although, we were not able to locate my uncle’s plane (likely in water deeper than we can dive) we had some remarkable successes starting on the first day of the trip. On the very first day we discovered what we believed to be the wreckage of a F6F-5 Hellcat in the Yap harbor. This was not a lucky find since we spent a lot time researching the American planes lost over Yap and received some invaluable information about the possible location from a former resident of Yap, Timothy Schubert. The harbor F6F-5 Hellcat crash site location was already known to us but we assumed it was a Japanese plane. We received information last year about the wreckage of a Japanese Zero in the same location but did not bother to dive the site. However, toward the end of our 2005 trip I started noticing that the Yapese and others on Yap thought all wreck sites were Japanese planes. Since America won the war they assumed we did not lose a lot of planes near Yap (we lost 33 planes). This year I asked my Yapese guides to take us to all sites so I could determine if the sites were American or Japanese. It turns out one of the assumed Japanese Zero wreck sites was actually the wreckage of an American F6F-5 Hellcat! While the F6F-5 Hellcat in the harbor was a very exciting find, we also located other American crash sites including a F6F-5 Hellcat on a hill. Both Hellcat wreck sites are believed to be two of the three USS Enterprise Hellcats shot down over Yap on 6 September 1944. Two Hellcat's collided over Yap and a third plane was hit by AA fire and went down within 30 seconds of the begining of the raid by the USS Enterprise.

For obvious reasons I can’t post all the information on my web site. Please continue to watch this page for updates as we review the wreckage with experts to identify each of the new crash sites we located. Please feel free to send comments and questions to:

Select One:

Pictures and information about American crash sites:

Unidentified crash/wreck sites:

Other Trip Events:

Read Sharon Conner's blog updates regarding the 2006 trip: Sharon traveled to Yap Island with the Missing Air Crew Project in Sept 2006. Sharon is the daughter of Sgt. William Edward Crowley. 13th AF, 307th BG, 372nd BS. KIA 7/15/44 – Midair collision near Yap. Sharon's Blog >

Pictures and information about Japanese crash/wreck sites:
Read Pat's blog updates regarding the 2006 trip. Pat's Blog >

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