P-MAN XIII Update #38 - A last hike on Peleliu. Respects to a fallen Marine. Cave crickets. And a whisper from the other side.
We "Got up. Got outta bed, drug a comb across our heads...."
Met the Cleared Ground folks at the dock to give them a lift to Peleliu. Our plan for the day had been to head south with Melvin and see the sites he had described to us earlier, after we dropped off Steve and Cassandra. Unfortunately, Melvin was not available to go with us. But Steve and Cassandra said they wanted to take us on a tour of a hiking trail they've created in the Death Valley battlefield. Since we had some extra time now, we agreed.
Logan, who has been assisting Joe on the boat all month, appeared to be under the weather. As it turns out, he had developed a serious infection on his leg from an injury he got the previous week. Pat (our team M.D.) said he should go to the hospital. Logan said he wanted to finish his work day with us and then he would go seek treatment. Joe said there is a clinic on Peleliu. So the plan became a dash to Peleliu and then escort Logan to the medical professional there, no matter what.
Of course you know there is a BentProp coincidence brewing here. The clinic is normally staffed by a 'health care worker'. But one day a week there is a visiting doctor from Koror. And today was the day. Logan was seen immediately (probably faster than going to the main hospital, including the boat ride), put on I.V. antibiotics, and kept there until we were done for the day.
Steve and Cassandra got their big vehicle, picked us up and took us to their handiwork in Death Valley. No amount of words can really describe this battlefield. The battle was horrific, with a staggering tally of loss of life. Steve and Cassandra have built a trail that is just under 400 meters long. On that trail, they found and disposed of over 1000 pieces of unexploded ordnance.
The stakes with the red and yellow stripes show where UXO was removed. The red and white round markers are the international symbol of where to walk, and where not to walk. Red side is bad. My tour guide here is Dave. He is a retired attorney from Wisconsin and a volunteer with Cleared Ground. He is the EMT for the organization. He has a personal connection to this battlefield. His uncle was killed during this battle, just around the corner from where this photo was taken.
As we walked around, Cassandra and Steve pointed out recent acts of vandalism on the battlefield. We have also noticed acts of vandalism against war relics in other states in Palau. We took photos and GPS waypoints and tonight as I type this, Pat is across the table writing a report for the Government of Palau, documenting what we have seen. Not only are these battlefields and artifacts important to the United States, this is also Palauan history. Vandalism and souvenir hunting hurts both of our countries.
We climbed into a cave to take a bit of a break from the battlefield.
We left this battlefield and Pat and Dave went back to the clinic to check on Logan. The rest of us went to Orange Beach, White Beach, South Dock, an LVT in the jungle (specifically The Lucky Lady that you all have probably seen in a wartime photo.) and then back to the boat dock.
Logan was on the boat looking happier. I'm told he doesn't like needles and when they poked him a couple of times to start the IV, he said forcefully, "Can I drink it instead?"
Our greeting was right in line with our personalities:
We started back, but stopped short at one of Melvin's sites. We did find some wartime photos of some anomalies that dovetail nicely into where Melvin says there's stuff. Rather than go inland without Melvin, we could look around in the water a bit. We didn't find anything.
On the way back we talked about how we obviously don't know the S.O.P. of communicating with ghosts. Just then, a beautiful rainbow appeared. And for a while, one end of it was anchored at a known wreck site. Maybe we are learning the S.O.P.?
Out to dinner with Joe. This is our last free night. Tomorrow we are hosting Mason who loaned us the van and has been very helpful for a number of years. The next night, our travel night, Dave and Margie from Bandidos fame are hosting us to margaritas and tostadas. Now that is the way to leave an island.
So one more working day. I hope we have something exciting to tell you in the next update. If not, you'll have to wait until P-MAN XIV which is now slated for 01March12 until 31March12. You heard it first here. The next Palau mission is less than 10.5 months away.