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Yap Island WWII Tourism and Memorial Project

Peter A. Prahar, U.S. Ambassador, Federated States of Micronesia
Peter A. Prahar, U.S. Ambassador, Federated States of Micronesia standing in front of the Ens. Joseph Cox F6F-5 Hellcat Memorial. Additional pictures located at: Cox Memorial PIctures
I'm pleased to announce a partnership between the Missing Air Crew Project and the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB). The two organizations have been working together over the last two years to document the history of Yap during World War II. The project goals include creating resources to document and share the history, training the Yap tourism industry on the history, setting up a WWII tour process and to create memorials to remember the lifes lost during WWII.

Yap is considered a backwater to the overall Pacific war, however, most are very surprised to find out that the US attacked Yap Island almost daily from June 1944 to August 1945 with the loss of over 35 planes and hundreds of men. Yap is strategically located between the Philippines and Guam and was at a crossroads for many of the Pacific battles. Once the US decided not to invade Yap in September 1944 they needed to insure that it was isolated from the Japanese supply chains and that it could not be used as an offensive forward operating base. This was especially important once the US occupied the nearby deep water harbor of Ulithi in the fall of 1944. Keeping Yap out of the war was key to the US success in the rest of the Pacific theatre. A variety of attacks were launched against Yap including long range B-24 bomber raids, carrier raids, ship to shore bombardments, land based Navy and Marine planes and submarines. Pat Ranfranz and the Missing Air Crew Project has spent over 20 years researching the history of Yap during WWII and has been able to share not only the military history of the actual missions but the personal stories of many of the men who were lost so that their memories can be preserved for future generations to remember.

Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) Links about Projects:

WWII Yap Banner Stands

In 2008 Pat Ranfranz designed and created double sided banner stands for the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) to use throughout the island and at dive and travel shows to create awareness to their WWII history. The following four banners were created:

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

Banner showing all the American Losses over Yap
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Banner showing the USS Enterprise losses over Yap on September 6, 1944
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Banner about the Coleman B-24 crew
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Banner about the Anthony B-24 crew
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The new banners setup at the Yap Visitors Bureau—October 2008


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Additional pictures of the banners can be viewed by clicking here.

WWII Yap Fact Sheets

In 2009 Pat Ranfranz designed and created fact sheets for the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) to use to educate visitors on the WWII history. If you’re planning a visit to Yap please download and read the following fact sheets to understand more about a few of the American losses during WWII. Additional fact sheets will be created moving forward.

Download the fact sheets in a PDF file format.

All-Weather Memorial Signs

Ens. Joseph Cox Memorial Sign
Ens. Joseph Cox Memorial Sign
In 2009 Pat Ranfranz designed and created fact memorial markers and all-weather signs for some of the American crash sites located on Yap during his search efforts. The memorial markers and signs pay tribute to the men who lost their lives on Yap during the war years. The markers and signs will also help education people moving forward about the war wreckage that has been sitting in the jungle, mangroves and water near Yap. For years nobody knew how the wreckage ended up on Yap and the individual stories about the men were virtually lost in time. We can now tell the stories about the men, the mission and the planes to make sure their sacrifices were not forgotten.

One of the most complete memorials is the new Ens. Joseph Cox memorial. The memorial pays tribute to Ens. Cox as well as the USS Enterprise and the VF-20 squadron. It is one of the best memorial sites in the Pacific. We originally located the Cox Hellcat crash site in the Yap jungle in 2005, however, when we returned to Yap in subsequent years we found that the nearby Yap dump was going to overtake and cover the remains of the plane. We worked with the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) to move the wreckage away from the dump to a location a ˝ mile away on government land. The plane now sits on a concrete pad and has a granite memorial marker dedicated to Ens. Cox in front of the plane as well as an all weather sign next to the plane that provides an overview about Ens. Cox and his family, F6F-5 info, a mission summary explain how the pilot was shot down and information about the USS Enterprise. Visitors to Yap will no longer refer to the nameless junk in the jungle. They now can understand that the story that claimed a young man serving his country during a brutal war. Additional pictures and information about the Ens. Cox F6F-5 Memorial Site can be viewed at this link.

The following memorial markers and all-weather signs have been created and are in the process of being setup at the wreck sites on Yap:

Click on a PDF below to view the indiviudal memorial signs.

Ens. Joseph Cox Memorial-Click to enlarge
Marble Memorial Markers

Additional marble memorial markers are being created for each sites. The marble marker were created by Bud Janzen with LMT Laserworks from Rochester, Minnesota. Bud did a great job creating the Ens. Cox memorial marker in 2009 and created five additional markers for our 2010 trip. The following memorial signs and markers were created and shipped to Yap Island for our July 2010 trip. We created signs and markers this year for Maj. William Clay, Jr., Ens. Howard Holding, Lt. Harry Brown, 1st.Lt, Girvis Haltom and the Coleman B-24 crew (my uncle's plane).


 

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Patrick Ranfranz tradeshow speaking with the Yap Visitors Bureau

In 2010 I had the honor being a seminar speaker at the "Our World Underwater" dive show in Chicago. I provided an overview of my Missing Air Crew Project and worked with the Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) to help promote travel to Yap Island. Cherie and I greatly enjoyed meeting and speaking to numerous people while working with the YVB in their booth at the show.

I'm pleased to have another opportunity to represent Yap Island and work with the YVB. I will be attending and speaking at the nation's leading travel show in Chicago on January 28-29, 2012 (The Travel and Adventure Show). I will be speaking about travel to Yap Island and will then be part of a three person panel on Saturday, Jan. 28 from 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Title, Diverse Asia & South Pacific ~ Experiences for Everyone

Speakers/Panel:

    Patrick Ranfranz, Yap Visitors Bureau
    Supinder Singh, Palace Tours
    Wendy Wu, Wendy Wu Tours
Cherie and I will be in the YVB booth throughout the show outside of the time above. Please stop by and say hi if you're attending the show.

Pat Ranfranz speaking at the 2010 "Our World Underwater" dive show in Chicago

Patrick Ranfranz
Patrick Ranfranz
Patrick Ranfranz
Patrick Ranfranz
Patrick Ranfranz
Patrick Ranfranz

Audio Files:

Download the listen to the following audio files to hear more about the air war over Yap during WWII, the three American Hellcat pilots that were lost over Yap on September 6, 1944 when flying a mission from the USS Enterprise and the Ens. Cox Hellcat memorial that was dedicated in 2010. The audio files will be part of an upcoming video that will be posted showing the memorial dedication. Please watch for the video to be posted.

Click to play or to download the files, right click on the files below and "save target" to your desktop to play. Files may take a few minutes to play or download due to the size.

Voice over by Jessica de la Cruz.

Please submit additional information.

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