Introduction to Findings
The decision for P-MAN VIII to have a one month duration remained a good one, correctly balancing exploratory zeal and fatigue.
This year's team was smaller than planned, as regular Flip Colmer suffered a knee injury during a world record skydive attempt in Thailand (another team member, Dan O'Brien, completed the same jumps in Thailand and made the record-breaking skydive). But every team member had been to Palau at least once on a BentProp mission: thus no time was lost bringing newbies up to speed.
Like each of our previous missions, P-MAN VIII had its unique characteristics. We continued conducting interviews with locals, producing more information concerning the Japanese forces within Palau than ever before. We also made many courtesy calls throughout Palau, visiting the President's Chief of Staff several times, meeting Palau's Vice President and several Senators, Governors and Chiefs. We gave another BentProp presentation at Sam's Tours (dive shop) to an audience with continuing interest in our activities.
This year we spent some time under water and much more time in jungles, both coral and volcanic. Not surprisingly, we found that we had to break up long stretches of jungle work with other tasks, such as interviews, in order to keep the team healthy. Even with excellent planning and execution, dehydration and loss of electrolytes crept subtly into our performance - something that only a team who has worked together would notice. But by enforcing safe practices, the team successfully completed this mission without injury. And in the process did answer some questions (with discovery of a new Avenger crash site on Peleliu) and continued to "peel the onion" one layer at the time in our search to the executed American POWs buried somewhere on the big island of Babeldaob.
Unlike prior reports to the BentProp website, this report not only describes "on-the-ground" findings in detail but also research in progress. We are finding information which is part of Palau's past, some of which may help in the future, but which we feel we should share now. None of what is presented here violates confidentiality concerning key locations or people.
Since its inception, the BentProp Project has recognized that our searches within Palau occur within an independent and sovereign country. Hence, we understand that we owe the Palauan people an explanation of our intentions before proceeding and a summary of our findings afterwards. With that recognition, the P-MAN VIII team continued to communicate with key offices, both national and state, with Chiefs and with key individuals throughout Palau to insure their understanding of our interests and goals. The BentProp Project does not take lightly the generosity of the Palauan people, both on an official and informal level, and we are determined to work hard to retain the trust we have been able to create with the people of Palau.
The BentProp Project also feels that, as we are investigating historical matters concerning our forces during WWII, we owe the American people a summary of our efforts. Accordingly, we coordinate our activities, as appropriate, with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hawaii (JPAC), the U. S. Navy Historical Center (NHC), Washington, DC, the US Air Force Historical Research Agency (AFHRA), as well as Ms. Deborah Kingsland, Chargé d'Affaires ad interim of the United States of America in Palau. We send confidential reports to these agencies, as appropriate, and we also provide a non-confidential version to the public through our website: www.bentprop.org.
To all of the above, the members of the BentProp Project express our deepest gratitude for the spirit of cooperation, patience and interest that we receive from each person and organization.
Introductory Note: As with prior BentProp Project missions, P-MAN VIII generated a lot of information in a non-linear manner - by which I mean that we typically explored more than one site in any given day and revisited sites according to need, weather and opportunity. Since this apparent chaos does not lend itself to a cohesive chronological review, I have pooled descriptions by event and not by date. As many P-MAN VIII personal events are ably captured in the daily logs on the BentProp web site through our webmaster, Reid Joyce, the summary below will focus more on the key findings. All references to specific identities of deceased individuals (who are currently subjects of ongoing investigations), human remains, and GPS readings have been removed from this report. Such information is considered by the BentProp team as CONFIDENTIAL as specified by the President of Palau, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hawaii (JPAC), U. S. Navy Historical Center (NHC) and the Palau Historical Preservation Office (HPO) and other related agencies of Palau. These and other agencies have, in parallel with this report, received a CONFIDENTIAL report with all specific information.