2009 BentProp Progress Report # 10a

P-MAN XI Update #10a - Molly, Warren, and Flip
24 February 2009

They must have acquired some Internet bandwidth. Late last night I got an update from Flip, and this morning there was one from Molly and Warren and another from Flip. I'm going to split this stuff into two separate reports with today's date. This first one will include Molly's input and the first of Flip's, and the second will include Flip's other one.

From Molly and Warren


First, Police hill has to wait. It’s a check/warmup/fun dive today - (no, I haven’t finished nitrox and I dove air today).

It doesn’t get better than this....Warren and Molly are on the Accelerated SCUBA course... we did have to say no to the offer of diving in a cave the other day but we got scary currents covered and diving to the edge of our air consumptions 'no worries mate...' Hmmmm....

But our first Wreck dives and look what they are!

  • Helmet wreck
  • B-24- I won't even try to explain how cool this is...words won't describe it....
  • Japanese plane: the Jake.


Wow, what a great first day for us! The whole team was out just below Police Hill with a goal of discovering the Kempei Tai headquarters. Mission Accomplished. Mark Swank and Katie Rasdorf are the Bomb with all their research to make this happen. This is also really the first day for us newbies out in the jungle. Wow, it's thick, it's wet...there's tripping rocks and vines and I am really glad I am covered head to toe with gear complete with a machete. :) We all avoided the poison tree today!

  • Kempei Tai confirmed.
  • Went to east side of road to continue the search for our sites. We feel pretty confident we found the area where the executions were done!
  • It didn't rain today. that's a first.
  • Molly and Warren (Warren's been super nice to help Molly with lunch duty) made enough food for everyone and everyone's happy. Molly's mission is to include fruits and veggies....we will not break down and have Flip's Spam...
  • John the Navy Master Diver who's SO HELPFUL to us came over to help us with the side scanning sonar. Molly's clueless but I learned about lat/long today. It's a start!
  • No, Molly has not studied....(I am slowly giving up on my nitrox certification).


This is the first day of split teams. Water and land. We were on the land team today and we are gettin' used to the jungle. First, it's just pretty cool to help discovering things that haven't been seen for ~65 years. It feels really good to help with the problem solving in whatever way we can and to bring closure to families - to help bring back our brave men in uniform.

  • Confirmation on Theories continues. It's just really cool to see how things are turning out (and Mark's energy!).
  • First time eating lunch in jungle in the rain with no problems. Yeah, we are settling into jungle life. No snakes today, though.
  • Joe runs circles around us and finds most of our discoveries! Who needs GPS when we've got JoePS? That's all we really need. Dan O'Brien says "Follow Joe," but we can't keep up with him :)
  • Pat ran into his annual poison tree today.
  • Katie has discovered poison tree as well, or as she calls it, "sticky tree."
  • Warren's laundry is MIA and so is a piece of clothing item of mine... hmm.
  • First night Spagetti night at Krämers. Yum. Also got a COOL Navy Salvage T-shirt from John the Master Diver.
  • Boat crew discovered some wreckage, too. Really silty though at the bottom, so they couldn't find the bottom per Paul.
  • It keeps raining! Big Storm when we got back to have a beer at Neco. Jolie came over to join us, and she will be joining us tommorrow!

From Flip

22 February

Today was a water day. And a good water day it was. But first, Lessons Learned:

  1. If the new folks don't know what the old hands know, it's the old hands' issue.
  2. If you lose your towel or weights overboard, you should fess up early.
  3. Our criteria for Internet quality is anything above abysmal.
  4. Even Navy Internet is slow. Somehow the local ISPs are sucking up their bandwidth too.
  5. If you want to start early the next morning, don't go out to dinner in public.

Today was our get back in the saddle water day. We have our full complement of folks and we have our water ops leader, Rick. Breakfast was early. And since it was Sunday, it was pancake day. Now that I've gotten the hang of the burners on the stove, I'll add blueberries next week to the pancake mix. And invite Dave and Margie from Bandidos fame.

We started the day early as we wanted to make sure we did not leave anything out, or anything behind when we left the hotel. Rick ran the safety brief and then we headed out. Got our stuff onto the boat, ran another check and then headed to The Helmet wreck. A boat ride of just under five minutes from Neco Marine. You can see the location from the dock. If you've been following our field reports for the past few years, you might remember that this was Tommy Doyle's first ocean scuba dive and his second was on his Dad's B-24.


The Helmet wreck is one of the few sunken ships not salvaged by the Japanese after the war. Although it's in the main harbor area, and in 55-110 feet of water, the ship was not found until 1984 or so. It was an armed merchant with stacks of war material, including helmets. Depth charges are also stacked on it. Still. But calling it the Depth Charge wreck isn't quite as tourist friendly. Mark would be staying on the boat as he did not get scuba qualed prior to our trip. He had mask, fins and snorkel with him but for this site, all you see from the surface is sea monsters.

The visibility is not great but it is a good warm-up dive to see different depths and large chunks of metal. It also allows us to see who takes our admonishments to heart: don't touch the things that go boom. We all got off the Helmet wreck with all our fingers intact. We headed to a spot where Esther, Joe's wife, said she saw some wreckage. It was shallow so we just paddled around with mask and snorkels. We did find some wreckage but it was from a boat. Maybe a Dihatsu inshore boat.

Paul telling me something

Wil hanging, Molly taking a GPS reading.

Then we headed to the B-24: '453. Watching Joe navigate is amazing. With only his eyes, and his knowledge coral heads and the shoreline, he always finds the places we want to go. When he told me to drop anchor, we were directly over the nose of the B-24.


The B-24 is a protected site in Palau and as such required us to get Presidential permission to dive it. We also had some guests with us. The Civic Action Team (CAT) joined us and it was great to be able to show some of today's Air Force what their brethren went through before them.

We dropped down onto the nose and I immediately found a beach towel in the wreckage. And then a two pound weight. Both looked amazingly clean. That must mean someone has been diving OUR site. I took the items along with me for investigation back on the boat.

For those that do not remember, this B-24, '453, broke in halves that lie on opposite sides of a coral head. From the nose, it's a small swim counterclockwise to get to the tail section of the airplane. After a few minutes, I grabbed Katie and Paul and we headed out so we could have the tail to ourselves for a few minutes. Paul wanted to get a picture of us holding up a POW/MIA flag. I got to the tail and turned to show them that we were here, but they were gone. Seems I might have been a little too aggressive in my speed and I left them in my dust. Great buddy that I am.

The tail section still has a beautiful, but deadly, lionfish living near the top of the wreck. And my feeling is that there was a lot more fish life hanging out in the wreck itself. With the CAT team and us, there were 16 people in the water. And now they were all on the tail. So I told my buddies that I was leaving and I went for some quiet time at the nose section.

Up to the surface and I showed the boat the items I found on the wreck. Finding a clean towel and a weight is suspicious. And no one said anything about it. Well of course you know what really happened. Seems one of our folks dropped his towel overboard and did not tell me when I brought the towel back onto the boat. And the weight belonged to another team member who did not tell me this until we were at dinner.

We finished the B-24 and said goodbye to our CAT team friends. A bit of lunch, a rain squall and some high winds made our surface time more enjoyable.

Over to The Jake to finish off our air. The Jake is a Japanese float plane that is in really good condition, sitting on the bottom. Six of us decided to burn up the rest of our air, so we plopped over the side for one more quick dive. A few pictures were taken and then it was back on the boat.

Out to dinner for some poke and salad. And of course we ran into the Officer In Charge (OIC) of the Navy divers and The Master Chief. They have set up a tour of the salvage ship and the enormous anchors they just pulled up. It will start at 0830 tomorrow. We had wanted to be on the road by 0730 but as is always the case with BentProp, Semper Gumby (Forever Flexible).


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