z The BentProp Project
2009 BentProp Progress Report # xx

P-MAN XI Update #04 - Valentine's Day
14 February 2009

Special announcement: Today we finally posted the full 2008 BentProp mission report, over which Pat Scannon, its author, has labored for almost a year. Here's where you can read the P-MAN X Report.

If your Internet connection has seemed a little slow the last few day, it's probably because of the flurry of last-minute message traffic being exchanged among the 2009-expedition team members. Several of them this year are making their first trip to Palau with BentProp; one of the newbies has previously been there as a sport diver.

The newbies seem to have self-selected themselves into two groups. One group has been approaching the tirp in a relatively calm, cool, deceptively sophisticated way. They're NOT the ones who have been sucking up your Internet bandwidth. The other group is now pretty much at the point of running around with their hair on fire, 24/7, mildly to severely panicked, and alternating between shopping blitzes at outdoor stores and bouts of anguish over what they're sure they've forgotten.

As I write this, Molly Osborne is actually the first team member to be under way for this year's expedition. Being from southern Arizona, she's the only one who doesn't cringe at the thought of the high temperatures in Palau. I'm not convinced that she fully appreciates how NOT-dry that Palauan heat is ... but she will, shortly. She'll be the first to arrive in Palau - tomorrow evening. Tuesday evening, Flip (this year's mission commander) and Paul arrive. Thursday evening, Pat, Mark, Katie, and Wil arrive. And Rick arrives Friday evening. The notion of having people dribble in over a period of almost a week is a substantial departure from our usual well coordinated team arrival. We'll see how that goes.

Most of them have agreed to make periodic contributions to these progress reports; we'll see how that goes, too. Molly is the first to actually send words designated as a "mini-update."


"...I leave [Saturday the 14th] with arrival Sunday night in Palau. I have lots of reading to do on the plane-including manuals for 2 new dive computers (one on loan) & a new camera. Esther is going to pick me up! Can't beat that!

I can't wait. I have been planning this for a while & I am so lucky work let me go for so long - I am SO lucky for this chance of a lifetime!"

Flip Colmer is somewhat more wordy than Molly, and he just chimed in with the first of this year's masterpieces, which I'll excerpt below. As always, the full version, probably with legible photos, will appear in his "blog" at flip. He presents below some expanded information about this year's team members to supplement the bio sketches that I assembled in Progress Report #2.


One more work day, and a night at home and then I am off to Palau. We have a great mission planned and we hope to give you great news during our adventure. We have a lot of new team members and a new search plan to help us find those warriors who did not make it home from the war. I hope to inform and entertain you through my updates. But first, everybody’s favorite section, Lessons Learned!

Lesson Learned (Already. Again.)

  1. Don’t sign up for Facebook 5 days prior to going somewhere where bandwidth is precious and email is only checked once a day at best. Who would have thought all those notes would come crashing in.
  2. A bathing suit, pair of gloves and two bandanas puts you over the 70 pound weight limit for Postal Service shipping. Okay, the 150 feet of network cable might have contributed as well.
  3. Once again, I remembered a few items to put in once the bag was past San Francisco.
  4. It’s a down economy and still the airplanes are full on the specific days you want to get somewhere on standby.
  5. No, you cannot use that U.S. Postal Service tracking number to actually track your bag once it leaves the country.
  6. You need the same amount of stuff for a three-week mission as you do for a four-week one.

The Players:

Pat Scannon, Team Leader, El Jefe,
SMF #1, Fearless Leader. Founder of The BentProp Project. Pat has been going to Palau in search of the MIAs since the early 1990s. He takes us places that we may never have gotten to on our own. Pat’s job this year is to oversee the entire project like the admiral on the bridge of a ship. He makes his wishes known and we carry them out. This is part of our new methodology to hopefully find the hard-to-find warriors who are missing in Palau.
Flip Colmer, Mission Coordinator, breakfast chef, team photographer, loser of GPS, advance man. I have been going with Pat to Palau since 2002 with only one year off to recover from a skydiving injury. My job is to make sure that we have everything we need logistically so that we can go after targets both on the land and in the water. Keeping with the Navy analogy I started with Pat, I am the air wing commander. Okay, an Army or Marine analogy might work better but I was in the Navy so what do I know about grunt stuff?
Mark Swank, Land Ops Leader. Mark is going to lead us on the ground this year. He’s one of our squadron commanders. Mark lives in Maryland and has been going to the National Archives for us for a long time. He is hot to find the executed POWs on the big island of Babelthuap. And he has a plan. Sounds like the Cylons, doesn’t it? This will be Mark’s first visit to Palau and he will only be spending two weeks of our three week mission with us. He’s a government employee so we think he’s trying to suck up to the new Boss by returning early.
Rick Smith, Water Ops Leader. Rick is going to lead us in the water this year. Rick is our other squadron commander. He is a technical diver from the Seattle, WA area. He has been going to Palau for a number of years and actually attended one of Pat’s briefings at Sam’s Tours. He made contact with us and has developed a plan on how to investigate the red circle map we have. These are marks on a map saying where the Japanese saw airplanes go down. We really needed a side scanning sonar (SSS) for this and we were not planning on having one. So Rick was going to go along with us on the land mission to learn about BentProp so that one day when we were on the water, he’d be more prepared. Well, now we do have a SSS so Rick will be gainfully employed on this year’s mission.
Katie Rasdorff, Head Archive Researcher. Katie has also been working the National Archives for us. She has uncovered lots of nuggets of information when we thought we were close to exhausting what the Archives had. She also started the Lost Patriot website which is a repository of all things archival. She will be making her first trip to Palau and is keen on finding everything that hasn’t been found. Former Marine. She’s going to keep us in line the entire time.
Molly Osborne, GPS and Google Earth Guru. This will be Molly’s first trip to Palau. She has been interested in going with us for quite some time and this is the year for her to join us. She is a dietician by training and will keep us from consuming chunky fish ice cream. She works at a V.A. in Arizona so she has had lots of contact with veterans.
Paul Schwimmer, Head Navigator. Paul’s business is finding stuff on the land and in the water. He’s a professional surveyor and he pestered me enough to warrant an interview with Pat. During the course of his intense interview, he mentioned he had a side scanning sonar. Did I mention we are getting to use one this year? Thanks Paul. Paul is a former Special Forces guy, hunter, fisherman and man about town. He also has a hobby dear to my heart which I did not find out about until I got this photo. If he had told me this earlier, I would not have made him interview. This is Paul’s first trip to Palau and his first task is to finish his scuba certification. [Anybody ever see the old movie "Donovan's Brain?" - Reid]
Warren Bruce, Land Safety and Provost Marshall. Warren is a current U.S. Marine F/A18 Hornet pilot. He heard about what we were doing from Derek Abbey who is another Marine and went with us two years ago. He rushed Pat and how could Pat say no to another one of our modern day warriors who is willing to spend his time looking for the warriors from yesteryear. Warren recently completed a ground tour in Iraq and is eagerly waiting to get back into a cockpit.
Wil Hylton, writer. Wil wrote an article about the B-24 we found a few years ago and the Doyle family. You remember them. They came out to dive the B24 before JPAC and the Navy divers did the recovery mission. Wil’s article appeared in GQ magazine. Wil has a long writing resume and when the opportunity arose to join us, he jumped at the chance. He will not only be doing research and writing, but he’s going to get his boots muddy helping us in the field and in the water. I was going to remove the red eye from his wife’s eyes, but that is a bit problematic. Somehow I think I am going to pay for using this photo. Sorry Wil, I lost the other one.
Jolie Liston, Resident Archeologist, car loaner agency and knowledge of all things ancient Palauan. Jolie was the expert assigned to the Compact Road Project. This was a new road built all the way around the big island. IF they came across anything that was ancient Palauan, Jolie would tell them to move the road. When she went hiking with us, she would point out ancient Palauan artifacts that we thought were just rocks and hills. Hey! If it’s not metal, why would we know about it?
Joe Maldangesang, Captain, Master Guide, betel nut tree climber, interpreter, teacher of all things Palauan, modern and ancient. No list of participants is complete without Joe. Joe has been working with BentProp for many, many years. We depend on Joe to keep us out of trouble, point us in the right direction and make sure we do not step on any toes. It also makes a difference that he finds everything we are looking for.

Our methodology for P-MAN XI (Palau- Marines, Army Navy, mission #11 for you new people.) has changed significantly. In the past, after a year’s worth of headwork, Pat would layout our mission goals, tasks and targets. It has worked really well in the past and BentProp has been very successful in finding crash sites and MIAs. However, Pat recognized that the low hanging fruit has been plucked and the remaining MIAs will not be easy to find. We felt that maybe, our last missions to Palau were on the horizon unless we got some new intel, or a new way to ‘attack‘ our targets.

Two folks of many have made significant finds at the National Archives: Katie Rasdorff, our head researcher, and Mark Swank. They got so excited about what they found that they are both going with us this year. In fact, Mark got so excited that he drew up a plan of how to find the executed POWs. Well, if you make a plan, you better carry it out. So Mark is in charge of prosecuting our land work this year. This gives a new set of eyes, and no preconceived notions, towards the task at hand. The old hands who are going, Pat and me, might have a tendency to say, ‘Oh we looked over there. There’s nothing to be found.’

Rick, as I mentioned, is in charge of the water ops. Once again, Pat and I could easily say, ‘Oh, we looked around that coral head. There’s nothing there.‘ But Rick is really eager to find stuff in the water. So we asked him if he were in charge, how would he carry out this mission. He drafted a plan and we told him okay. Once again, if you’re going to create a plan, you better be prepared to carry it out.

This is our plan and as you all know, a plan is just something to deviate from.

Can you feel this thing starting to roll? Stay tuned...

- Reid

Return to Progress Reports Index