2011 BentProp Progress Report # 24

P-MAN XIII Update #24 - Casey dives into family history. Swimmng with yellow fishes. Joe's bodyguard.

29 March
...by Casey Doyle

Best Laid Plans......

At 0700 this morning, we had a busy day laid out for us. We were to meet up with the President of Palau, the U.S. Ambassador to Palau, the Rear Admiral from the U.S. Navy who's the United States Defense Secretary’s representative for this region of the world, and all respective entourages. Then there was going to be a big to-do at the B-24 site with all parties present.

By 0730, that plan was thrown out the window. Because of reasons beyond our control, the ceremony is on hold for now. But we may be revisiting the whole ceremony thing in the very near future. So now we had to come up with a new plan, and why waste a good day of diving just because we have no dignitaries? So we headed out to the B-24 site anyway, and the team was gracious enough to take the time to let me see the B-24 site that ultimately brought the team and me together, and brought a lot of closure to a very personal chapter in my own family’s history.

Wesley and Derek gear up for a dive on the '453, sans dignitaries:
Wesley's first dive after his certification.

Father and son, Derek and Wesley, on the '453.

Casey and the group surfacing after their dive on the '453 - his grandfather's
crash site.

For me, it was quite moving. Pat and Joe were my personal guides around both the forward and aft sections of the wreckage. We did 2 dives in that area. Of note - mostly to those who have dove the site before - remember the 2 lion fish that used to guard the wreckage? Well they must have been a married couple and recently had a few kids. Because 2 lion fish have now turned into 5 or 6 lion fish! It’s good to know that there is a squad of very poisonous fish warding off any unwanted intruders from my grandfather’s crash site. But as is the code of warriors (both fish and humans alike), they bid us by our leave to pay our respects to the site and paid us little mind.

Not only was this quite a day for me, but for Wesley, Derek’s son, as well. Wesley got his first taste of diving outside the confines of the PADI Open Water course. Besides the lion fish and the wreckage, he got to see a 6-foot (as the story was later told) sting ray!

Early in the afternoon, we departed the area for another site off Western Babeldaob where we had been using SSS to locate a possible site. After a couple of days of detailed trouble-shooting by Dan O’Brian with BentProp support staff back stateside, the SSS was back up and running. We made several good runs, and the unit seems to be running like clockwork. But .... we might have gotten a little over-confident with our success and ran the unit a little deep. We ending up running the unit into a coral head and getting snagged up in the reef. (See picture below.) So Derek and I went back into the water for a 3rd dive, and in 5 minutes completed the quickest underwater salvage mission ever attempted. But it was getting late and time to head into the dock. Everyone should know that the unit is still operating as it should be at the time of this writing.

The SSS fish lives. Normally it's running straight and true (and horizontal)
through the water behind the boat. Here, it's just resting on the bottom.
Its amateur handlers are treating it well. Really.

Dan, Joe, and Logan. Joe is our Master Guide, Human GPS, and Palauan El Jefe.
Joe lets his bodyguard Logan drive the boat sometimes.

As for tomorrow’s mission, your guess is as good as mine. I leave that up to Field Marshal Derek “Erwin” Abbey. Flip arrived tonight, so there is now a plurality of the BentProp High Counsel of Elders on deck. Flip brought with him a BentProp hat for me - didn’t even have to adjust it or anything. It just fit. Man, it’s been a good day.

- Casey

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