Three downed aircraft, associated with seven MIAs from famous WWII battle, located in Pacific Ocean

| February 21, 2020

Avengers of VT-6 flying from the USS Intrepid in 1944. The USS Intrepid was one of the aircraft carriers involved in Operation Hailstone, an Allied aerial assault on Japanese-held island positions in the Pacific Theater. (Courtesy of Project Recover/United States Navy Museum of Naval Aviation)

Not stealing Hondo’s thunder, or at least it isn’t my intention. This should be considered the discovery phase, with recovery and identification of the remains yet to occur. But obviously one must find the site before anything else can follow. Enter Project Recover.

Dylan Gresik

In February 1944, the U.S. military launched Operation Hailstone, a massive military assault on Japanese fortified positions in the Pacific. On Monday — 76 years later — researchers announced the discovery of three U.S. aircraft remains associated with seven service members missing in action.

Project Recover identified the wrecks of two SBD-5 Dauntless dive bombers and one TBM/F-1 Avenger torpedo bomber in Truk Lagoon, now known as Chuuk State in the Federated States of Micronesia.

The nonprofit, which works to locate and repatriate Americans missing in action, located the three planes that launched from the carriers USS Enterprise and USS Intrepid to strafe Japanese-held islands during the two-day air assault.

Over four expeditions, researchers with Project Recover scanned the ocean floor with advanced sonar surveys and high-resolution imaging devices. The organization used underwater autonomous vehicles tethered to surface vessels and human divers to “interrogate” the sites — survey them for verification and identification of the remains.

Propeller from a TBM/F-1 Avenger torpedo bomber in Truk Lagoon. Image captured from a Remotely Operated Vehicle. (Courtesy of Project Recover/Bob Hess, Scripps)

“[These vehicles are] able to look at large areas in fine resolution. When these aircraft crash into the water, they don’t look like aircraft anymore,” said Mark Moline, Ph.D., principal investigator and co-founder of Project Recover. “Most of them are piles of metal that don’t rise very far off the bottom [of the ocean]. The exception is the propeller, usually sticking out.”

A coral covered propeller of a U.S. SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber stands above the sand in Truk Lagoon. (Courtesy of Project Recover)

Amazing work. Read the entire article here: Military Times

Category: Bravo Zulu, Navy, No Longer Missing

Comments (14)

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  1. 5th/77th FA says:

    Amazing work indeed. I am humbled by the work that these organizations do to account for our missing Warriors; and a NON-profit to boot. Wonder how much profit that could make using the technology and the skills on other things. Thank You Project Recover.

  2. ninja says:

    Thank You for sharing that article, AW1Ed.

    Read it the other day. Thank goodness for advanced technology as well as the spirit and persaverence of organizations such as Project Recover and the Folks who partake in these type of missions.

    Unsung Heroes in my book.

    • AW1Ed says:

      “Read it the other day.”

      Best ninjas ever. Can’t get ahead, can’t hide, can’t go to ground. Our ninjas will find you and out you at length every time.

      Just glad they’re on our side.

      • ninja says:

        The ninja family will be enjoying Shrimp and Cheese Grits this weekend as well as the Chocolate Lava Muffins, courtesy of AW1Ed and his recipes.

        And now KoB has our family hooked on those Cathead Biscuits. They go well with the homemade SoS recipe that another TAH Reader provided (was it Skyjumper? Martinjumper?).

        ninja family will also be trying Ex-PH2’s recipe for homemade soup.

        It’s all good!

        *big grin*

        • 5th/77th FA says:

          Disconnect the clapper from the claymore ninja, friendlies coming inside the wire. And btw, I’m bringing a bedroll and a toothbrush. You did say the ninja family loves stray dogs didn’t you?

          Think it was Sky that put the SoS recipe up here. And yep, it does go well with them fluffy cat headed biscuits. Imma gonna be working on a cat headed cheese biscuit next. Same basic idea but mix in a shredded cheese. Imma thinking the key to that is a finner shred to the cheese so it doesn’t weigh the dough down.

          What really goes well with a cat head is genuine cane syrup, made from real sugar cane. I’m sure you remember that from Grandma’s larder. I’ve got several sources down here that still make it at home. One of my artifacts from “The War” is a 60 gallon Schofield Iron Works cane kettle that is circa 1850. Schofield switched to casting cannon during “The War” making brass Napoleons and rifled guns in Macon, Georgia.

          You’ll know your biscuit throwing skills have arrived when you can bake up a dutch oven full of them on a campfire. Or your dough is of a consistency to wrap around a green stick and bake on open coals.

          • ninja says:


            gabn, rtr, hbtd….


            AW1Ed is gonna come after this ninja for hijacking this thread….

            Back to Project Recover!


            • AW1Ed says:

              I had to come down on Slow Joe for straying off topic, so in all fairness I’ll do the same to you and the Cannon Cocker.
              I’m pretty lax, but keep your comments in the same time zone as the post or they will disappear.

              • 5th/77th FA says:

                yes Sir Air Boss, Copy. my fault. Forgot to thank you too, for the linky to Project Recover. I roamed around over there for a good little while. In our mutual defence, it was you that throwed the chocolate lava and cheese grits with shrimps on us.

              • ninja says:

                Yes, Sir!


                (What’s Fair Is Fair. That is why AW1Ed is a great Moderator/Admin Guru).

                SOMEONE has to correct those of us who go off the path.

                Never Mess With A Navy AW1. Never.
                Except in December.


                Back To Project Recovery!

  3. Slow Joe says:

    Hack Stone is thw funnniets mothafeeffer in TAH.

    I rake my hut off

  4. The Other Whitey says:

    LTJG John Burns, scout/spotter pilot on USS North Carolina (BB-55), got a Navy Cross for rescuing downed aircrew under fire in Truk Lagoon with his OS2U Kingfisher floatplane. Burns and his gunner, Aviation Radioman 2nd Class Aubrey Gill picked several men out of the water and taxied them to USS Tang (SS-305), which was on plane guard duty at the lagoon entrance. The OS2U was badly damaged by wave action (5-foot seas) and enemy fire and had to be scuttled by Tang’s gunners once the crew and rescued survivors were safely aboard.

  5. Thunderstixx says:

    Another light history lesson that is the result of my innate curiosity to learn more about this wonderful country we are lucky enough to call home.
    From the “As An Aside Department” at the Thunder Ranch South on the methodology of the sonar equipment. The instruments used to find these sites and other sites sometimes miles deep in the ocean. is an offshoot of the same technology that Cmdr Robert Ballard was using to find the USS Thresher in the Atlantic after it sank off the Azores.
    Ballard was a graduate of the US Army ROTC and when called up to active duty in the US Army transferred to the US Navy as an oceanographer. His duties assigned him as a liaison between the US Navy and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.
    While in the US Navy Reserve, where he finished his career as a Commander, he was the leader of numerous scientific missions with the most famous one being the discovery of the USS Thresher and the subsequent discovery of the HMS Titanic.
    After finding the USS Thresher wreckage he continued to scan the bottom in the area known to be near the site of the HMS Titanic.
    The mission found both the USS Thresher and the HMS Titanic and later the technology was improved and instrumental in finding the HMS Hood and the Nazi Warship the Bismark in 1989 and the USS Yorktown in 1998.
    Dr Ballard continues to lead the field of research regarding sonic underwater methods used to locate wrecks and provide highly detailed maps of the ocean floor.
    Dr Ballard is a fascinating American Hero and the data he has compiled on the Oceanographic Research for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and just the general public will keep students and researchers busy for decades trying to decipher the data to provide the most up to date geology of 2/3 of Planet Earth’s surface.
    It is said that we know more about the Moon and Space in general than we do about the depths of the Oceans, but Dr Ballard has spent his entire life helping us to find out more about this magnificent machine we inhabit and call our home.
    Any YouTube search about Dr Ballard will result in at least a few dozen items to keep even the most curious of us entertained for hours !!!
    Trust me on that one…..