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Yap Visitors Bureau and the Missing Air Crew Project announce One-of-a-kind WWII memorial dedicated on Pacific Island of Yap, July 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Download Memorial Dedication Booklet PDF (pdf file 393 KB)
Yap Island, FSM, August 28, 2010: - The Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB), Yap State Government, U.S. Ambassador to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), U.S. Navy, and Missing Air Crew Project (MACP) together dedicated one of the most unique World War II memorials ever on July 27, 2010 on Yap Island. The newly constructed memorial displays the actual wreckage of an F6F Hellcat shot down over the island on September 6, 1944. It pays tribute to the plane's pilot Ens. Joseph Cox of Sand Point, Idaho as well as the hundreds of other Americans lost near this Pacific Island during WWII.
In the historical context of WWII and the Pacific theatre American losses near Yap (now part of the FSM) were substantial, yet continue to be overlooked even today. Strategically located between the Philippines and Guam, Japanese occupied Yap was targeted almost daily from June 1944 to August 1945 at the cost of hundreds of American men, 110 of which remain classified as missing in action.
Pat Ranfranz of Cameron, Wisconsin, founder of the MACP, has spent over 20 years researching Yap during WWII and the stories behind each airman and his mission, hoping to preserve their memories for generations to come. Pat's uncle is among the airmen that remain missing. Each year since 2005, Pat and his wife Cherie have traveled to Yap looking for missing American planes. They have located and recovered numerous aircraft over the last five years and continue to seek out new sites during each visit.
The memorial dedication, attended by hundreds of Yapese, took place near Yap's Public Works building on Tuesday, July 27, 2010. Among the dignitaries attending were Yap Governor Sebastian Anefal, Lieutenant Governor Tony Tareg, U.S. Ambassador to the FSM Peter A. Prahar, U.S. Navy Civilian Affairs Commander Bryce Gibb. Most importantly in attendance were three members of the Ens. Joseph Cox family, including his 90 year old brother Ellis Cox, as well as two relatives of another soldier, Ens. Howard Holding-all of whom made the sixty-hour round trip to attend the dedication. Ens. Holding collided with Ens. Cox the day they were shot down. Pat Ranfranz recovered the Ens. Holding wreckage in 2006.
Pat Ranfranz expresses his gratitude for the work that was done to make the memorial dedication doable. "This would not have been possible without the work done by the people of Yap and the Yap Visitors Bureau to save and preserve the American crash sites and wreckages that remained after the war. Too many people have forgotten the men who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII. This memorial and others on Yap Island will help to immortalize the forgotten and bring meaning to their sacrifices."
The YVB and MACP have been working together for several years to preserve and remember the American airmen who lost their lives over Yap during WWII. For more information about the memorial dedication and Missing Air Crew Project, visit: www.missingaircrew.comor www.visityap.com.
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