2013 BentProp Progress Report # 14

P-MAN XV Update #14 - Slow. Day.

03 April

{This report is out of order by one slot - Reid was out of town for two weeks, and somehow this one got lost in the shuffle on the road. It really belongs in position 13, but...well...I'm pretty sure you can deal with it. - Reid]

We're empty nesters! All the students from Stockbridge have gone home and they took Derek away with them. It's just me, Pat, Dan, Casey and Joe now.

We all have been feeling a little tired of late. WE kept up a good pace while Stockbridge was here to make sure they had targets to go after. Today, we slowed it way down. Not a day off. Just a slowed, down, day, for, a, change. We started with coffee in the ready room, plotting out the day's activities. Then next door for breakfast. Dan wanted to make us whatever we wanted but all the dishwashers wanted a day off.

After breakfast, back to the ready room to make appointments. Then off we went to meet our appointees, and to do some flybys for appointments with people that we did not have contact info for. Our first stop was Bureau of Arts and Culture. We want to interview some elders whom we haven't met yet, and since we haven't met them, we don't know who we want to interview. Sylvia, from the Oral History division of B.A.C. is our point of contact for this. We've set an appointment with her to go with us to a senior center on Friday. She's making the contacts for us at the senior center. Then we're heading up onto the big island with her for some more interviews.

On the way out of B.A.C.'s building, we wanted to stop at the Vice President's office and ask to set up an appointment to meet him. He's in a nearby building that is the Ministry of Justice. Which just happens to be his other position in the government. We have a long standing relationship with the current President of Palau, but we've never met the V.P., Antonio Bells. When we got to his office, it was locked tighter than a drum. So we walked outside and who was walking in? The V.P. Joe introduced us and we told him we wanted to set up an appointment. He said, "how about right now?"

So we sat outside and had our chat. Turns out he knows a bit about us, knows we know where the Corsair is and wants to go look at it. And he is the V.P., so how can we say no?

Vice President Bells and the BentProp team.

So back to B.A.C. Although we have government permission to dive this restricted site whenever we want, we have to have an official from B.A.C. along with us. We found a willing member, Sunny. She has worked with us in the past and when I mentioned 'any day on a boat is better than a day in the office.', she said yes, she would be our minder. Of course she checked with her boss first.

Our next stop was at The Palasia Hotel to meet Etsuko Seid. Etsuko is from Japan but married a Palauan and has been here for over 20 years. Glen Seid is her husband and his family tree is quite interesting. Sidney Seid was from San Francisco and Jewish. He went to Canada during World War Two to join the Royal Canadian Air Force prior to the U.S. entry into the war. He became a Mosquito pilot in the European Theater. He did not join the USAAF when we finally entered the conflict. Somehow (I don't know this part of the story, but I just bought the book "Terror in the Starboard Seat," so maybe I'll find out.) he got to Palau, married a Palauan and founded a dynasty here. And one day he went on a rescue mission for another airplane in his float plane and was never seen again. Fast forward and Etsuko is married to Sidney's son.

Etsuko is a translator and consultant. She has many contacts in the Japanese government as well as being a resident of Palau for 20+ years. We explained to Etsuko who we are and what we are trying to do and wondered if she knew anyone who might be able to point us in new directions to finding MIAs. She thinks this is a worthy project as she does translation work for some of the groups from Japan who are coming to try to bring closure for the Japanese families who lost loved ones here in Palau. However, Etsuko's grandfather was in the Imperial Japanese Navy and was on Saipan. He did not survive the war, but she knows much of him from her grandmother. She has a personal interest in closure for families. I believe we have a mutual interest in cooperation here.

Etsuko and the team.

Then back to the hotel to meet Steve Ballinger from Cleared Ground Demining. He brought along John Rodsted, an Australian war reporter. John is doing a story on Cleared Ground in hopes of drumming up support in Oz. There is also a pretty famous Australian television war reporter doing a story as well. My understanding is he's been doing this forever and his pieces appear on an Aussie version of 60 Minutes.

It also turns out that with the passage of time, neither DOB nor Flip remembered John, nor he us. But as the 'do you knows' came to the surface we figured it out. We all skydived together in California and Indonesia many moons ago. "Boy, have you changed" John said to DOB. Really? I thought to myself.

Then out for a bite of dinner at a new place, I Love Noodles. Good Thai food in a roofed, open air place. Across the street to a fried dough shack run by a Hungarian couple. Their newest creation was introduced to them by Dave Mendoza: Churros. Yum.

- Flip Colmer

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