We were pleased to be joined by Mark Noah from the non-profit History Flight organization and Stan Gajda for part of the trip. Both Mark and Stan provided invaluable help during the trip. Stan had previous experience searching for wreckage on Yap and a great knowledge base of WWII information and aircraft. Mark sponsored Stan for his 4 days on Yap and arrived just as Stan was departing for another island search trip. Mark’s organization purchased a side scanning sonar unit in the summer for the purpose of helping us locate my uncle’s plane on Yap plus other upcoming search trips. We put a lot of time into the sonar search with Mark throughout the trip but in the end did not locate my uncle’s plane. However, we did identify a number of targets that we’ll need a sonar expert to interrupt.
We teamed up with a marine biologist by the name of Brian Green and the Manta Ray Hotel dive shop manger, Jan Sledjens, to checkout some of the deeper sonar targets. Brian and Jan made deep dives to a few of the sites with us while I stopped at “about” 130 feet. I think I went a few feet beyond what I wanted to hit. Brian has the ability to use a re-breather but he was waiting for some replacement parts during our trip. Brian and Jan said they will continue to dive my uncle’s crash site location after we departed. Brian will spend some significant time diving the site at deep depths with his re-breather. Brian is very likely going to be the one who discovers my uncle’s plane with his re-breather or the one-man submarines he might be bringing to Yap in the near future for his marine biology work. In the end I truly believe that Brian and/or Jan will find my uncle’s plane and the Coleman crew. I can’t thank them enough for all their help and was so pleased to see how dedicated they were to help us during the trip and moving forward. I will be posting pictures of Brian and Jan from our deep diving days soon. Both of them are exceptionally nice people that I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and dive with on Yap this year!
Cherie and I are fighting a real bad case of poison tree (like poison ivy in the states) since returning from Yap. We were fine for the most part on the way home from Yap since the poison tree takes a few days to show up. The day after we returned last week the poison tree hit hard on my legs and one arm and on both of Cherie’s ankles. We held out from going to a doctor until the rash and itching was driving us absolutely nuts. We tried every solution we could find on the internet since last weekend to find relief. The doctor provided a strong oral prescription that should start helping soon. I hope this helps us get back to normal since we have been miserable since returning home. I will be posting some pictures later tonight from the Helldiver crash site we discover on the last day of the trip. This was the site deep in the jungle where we came in contact with the poison tree. Feel free to look through the pictures and try and find the poison tree that has made my legs a mess! This particular crash site was very interesting and untouched from the war years. Two crew members died at the site and less than one set of remains were recovered from the site in 1948 by the American grave registration teams. The Yapese told us that the Japanese pulled the dead American crew members from the crash site and beat their bodies with sticks. This story was told to me a few years ago before I located the crash site so it likely has some truth.
In short, please look for additional updates from all the sites we visited during our trip over the coming days. I hope I have the renewed energy to get all the information and pictures posted. We will also be sending JPAC reports about the remains we found at two of the American crash sites. We hope that JPAC will use this information to schedule a recovery mission to Yap in 2009. On one of the sites where we found what we believe to be remains we placed a white cross with the pilot’s name so the site is clearly marked for JPAC to recover. We have also worked with the Yapese to protect all the American crash sites on Yap and consider them memorials and grave sites.
Please look for more information and pictures soon.
Pat & Cherie Ranfranz
Posts: 707 | From: Cameron, Wisconsin | Registered: Dec 2004
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