Yap Island, FSM, honors American losses from World War II
Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) and Missing Air Crew Project (MACP) join forces to create unique World War II memorials throughout the small Pacific island of Yap
Yap Island, FSM, September 7, 2013--To honor Americans who lost their lives on or near the Pacific island of Yap during World War II, the citizens of Yap have recently partnered with the U.S. based Missing Air-Crew Project (MACP) to implement one of the world’s most unique WWII memorial projects.
Together with Patrick Ranfranz, founder of the Missing Air Crew Project, the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) has worked to create all-weather memorial signs and marble markers throughout the island to remember and honor American men who were killed there during the war. One of the men was Patrick’s uncle, John McCullough, who was shot down along with 9 other men on June 25, 1944. Ranfranz, from Cameron, Wisconsin, has spent over 20 years researching Yap during WWII and the stories behind the airmen and their missions, hoping to preserve memories for generations to come. He has traveled to Yap several times since 2005 in search of missing American planes and wreckage.
The small island of Yap was a pivotal part of WWII’s Pacific Theater. Over one hundred and thirty American men were shot down near the Japanese occupied island which is now part of Federated States of Micronesia.
Since 2008 the YVB and MACP have memorialized over ten sites across the island with additional sites still in planning. Each site includes a large memorial sign designed to withstand the tropical climate of Yap and an etched marble marker embedded in concrete. The signs and markers provide an overview of the men, their mission, and a summary of the planes and ships involved.
One site near the village of Wuluu was created in a mangrove swamp by building a stone walkway and a wood bridge out to the wreckage of a Marine F4U Corsair. “The sites are beautifully setup and cared for throughout the island by the YVB and the Yapese villages. They’re truly the most unique WWII memorials in the Pacific,” explains Ranfranz.
He continues, “These memorials offer Yap visitors the opportunity to take a WWII tour and remember the men who died serving our country. What used to be unmarked wreckage resting in the jungles and swamps are now memorials that provide information about the men, their mission and the planes—to commemorate their sacrifice. These beautiful memorials are a visible proclamation of our thanks and continue our theme that a man is not dead unless he is forgotten.”
Ranfranz expresses his gratitude for the work that was done to make the memorial project possible. "We could not have done this without the people of Yap and the Yap Visitors Bureau, who saved and preserved the American crash sites and wreckages that remained after the war. Too many of us have forgotten the men who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII. The memorials on Yap Island will help to immortalize the forgotten and bring meaning to their sacrifices."
The YVB and MACP continue to preserve and recover additional wreckage throughout the island. For more information about the Yap Island World War II Memorial project, visit the Yap Visitor’s Bureau or Missing Air Crew Project websites, www.visityap.com orwww.missingaircrew.com or call or email Patrick Ranfranz at 612-282-5624 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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