MEDIA ADVISORY FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE News Release Date: October 21, 2017
Media Contact: Tom Tamangmow, Yap Visitor’s Bureau (YVB), email@example.com Media Contact: Patrick Ranfranz, Missing Air Crew Project, firstname.lastname@example.org
YAP ISLAND, FSM, CONTINUES UNIQUE QUEST TO PRESERVE WORLD WAR II HISTORY
World War II artifacts have been revealed on historic hills behind Colonia, Yap, during a wind turbine development project. The artifacts will be preserved by the village of Weloy to offer visitors an expanded World War II historic tour, along with the island’s numerous American and Japanese aircraft wrecks.
Colonia, Yap, FSM-- Following World War II, while a majority of the world cleaned up post-war wreckage, many small islands in the Pacific pushed aside their war remnants. The jungle and mangrove forests quickly reclaimed land that had been interrupted by a fierce war that caught their islands and way of life in a crossfire. For more than 70 years, many of the artifacts remained forgotten and hidden in the jungles; however one tiny island in Micronesia, Yap Island, has spent the past 10 years trying to locate and preserve remaining wreckage from WWII and begin history tours of the sites to help save the history before it is lost in the ages.
Recently, the Yap State Public Service Corporation (YSPSC) started a wind turbine development project on the historic Made’de and Kabul hills that are located behind Colonia, the capitol of Yap, and within the local municipality Weloy, Yap. While excavating the wind farm sites, several Japanese World War II guns, caves and trenches were uncovered.
The hills have a history of significance on Yap, and have long served as a strategic point to watch for approaching sea vessels. For centuries, the Yapese used the hills to watch for returning canoes that carried huge quarried limestone discs that were used as stone money on the island (the stone money still exists on Yap). From the 17th century until 1899, Yap was a Spanish colony. The Spanish built lighthouses on the hills that guided their ships to the island. In the 19th century, a famous American trader, David Dean O'Keefe, became a powerful figure in Yap. He also utilized the hills and the lighthouses to monitor his ships when he ruled the Micronesian copra trade.
During World War II, Japanese-held Yap was one of the islands bypassed in the U.S. "island-hopping" strategy, although it was regularly bombed by U.S. ships and aircraft--and Yap-based Japanese bombers did some damage in return. The late stages of World War II saw the occupying Japanese forces on Yap and other Pacific islands prepare for the onslaught of Allied forces as they systematically built up resources and momentum toward the Japan. On Yap, the Japanese dug into the hills to await the American invasion that was expected in the late summer or early fall of 1944. The Japanese built bunkers, dug out caves and placed numerous large artillery guns in the hills to fire upon the attacking forces. Fortunately for Yap, the Americans decided to bypass the island and isolate it rather than invade. The bunkers, caves and guns, however, remained in place.
After the war, the artifacts slowly rusted away as the jungle reclaimed the hills. Now, 72 years after the war ended, these items are being uncovered due to the wind farm project. The Yap Visitor’s Bureau (YVB) is working with Patrick Ranfranz with the Missing Air Crew Project and the community of Weloy to set up, maintain and include the sites as part of their expanded World War II tours that run throughout the island. When complete, the sites will include all-weather history signs and markers that explain Yap’s involvement in the war as well as descriptions of each of the artifacts on display.
The YVB has a long-standing partnership with Patrick Ranfranz from the Missing Air Crew Project (MACP) and numerous communities around the island, who help locate and preserve each site. Patrick came to Yap years ago trying to find the crash site of his uncle who was shot down over Yap in a B-24 on June 25, 1944. Although Patrick is still searching for his uncle’s plane, he has helped document and locate numerous other crash sites and artifacts on the island.
Once a site has been identified, the YVB works with the community to install signs and markers that explain the history of what took place at the various sites during World War II. Many of the sites are located at American crash sites around the island. Over 40 American planes crashed on or near Yap while attacking Japanese forces who held the island throughout the war. Numerous sites have also been set up in recent years to provide the history behind Japanese aircraft wrecks and guns that remain on the island. Today, visitors can tour the island and learn about the men, the planes and the losses.
“I don’t know of another location in the world that has put forth so much effort by their communities to preserve their World War II history so that it will not be forgotten,” states Patrick Ranfranz. “For a 38-square mile island (100 km), this is truly a unique effort that is unparalleled in the Pacific. Visitors coming to Yap have the opportunity to step back in time as they view numerous World War II sites that have been preserved and documented to tell the stories of the war.”
About Yap Visitor’s Bureau: Mysterious isle of Stone Money, Yap is a wonderful mix of past, present and future, where an ancient culture exists side-by-side with the 21st century! General Information: Yap is located in the Western Pacific stretching from 6 to 10 degrees North Latitude and 137 to 148 degrees West Longitude in the Western Caroline Islands. Yap is one of the four states that make up the Federated States of Micronesia and is some 450 miles southwest of Guam and 360 miles northeast of Palau.
About the Missing Air Crew Project: Patrick Ranfranz founded the Missing Air Crew Project to search for his missing uncle, T/Sg.t John R. McCullough. John was one of ten crew members on a B-24 Liberator that was shot down by a Japanese fighter over Yap Island on June 25, 1944. The Missing Air Crew Project and its web site, www.missingaircrew.com is dedicated to the mission to research and locate the unaccounted-for men and planes who were lost near Yap Island during WWII. We should find our fallen men and bring them home, no matter where they fell, or how long ago they have been lost.
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