P-MAN XVII Update # 15 - A steep climb reveals Dwi's parts. He was right, but...
13 April 2015
Today, we're going to do everything: take care of admin things prior to departing, hike a jungle island, crawl through a mangrove and dive a murky channel. It just can't get any better than that.
Dan and Jennifer stayed back to take care of the admin things. Joe, Pat, myself and Charlie took the boat to Dwi's Island to check out the top of the island where Dwi said there were airplane parts. It was low tide and we saw the remnants of a landing craft near where we found that one piece of metal yesterday in the water. The island isn't all that big, but it sure got steeper once we were on it.
The ground is not coral. So the good news you have less risk of getting sharp razor like cuts if you fall. The bad news is the top soil is still decomposing vegetation so footing is a problem And did I tell you it was steep?
We got out, climbed the steep eastern end and started walking the summit. Actually summits. There were small 'roads' and trails cut through the top of the island in many places. So we would go around each, find a way to the top and take a look around. Then back down and do the next one. Of course Joe goes through the jungle like we walk through a park so he found the parts Dwi was talking about. Unfortunately, not aircraft. But Dwi's reporting was spot on.
We came down the west side of the island. Joe told us since the tide was out, Pat and I should walk the shoreline and he would follow the trail on the island. Pat and I did as directed and went through a mangrove. Okay, the mangrove was only about 3 to 4 plants and only 10 feet wide, but it was still a mangrove.
Back on the boat, back to home base. Loaded the scuba gear and then had to have a lunch meeting. We've wanted to get together with Mason Whipps since we got here. So it worked out to have a lunch meeting on our last mission day. Once that was over, Pat and I went back to the boat for one last scuba dive. He wanted to make sure an airplane, specifically the Helldiver, wasn't hiding in an area near the quarry. A spot we started calling 'The Crack'. There is an underwater ridge that parallels the shore near the quarry. There are a few notches in the ridge that the underwater vehicles cannot get to. So we swam the transition zone along this ridge. The plan was to go from the northern tip of the ridge to the southern tip on the eastern side of the ridge . Well, we still had air at the southern tip so we swam back to the start point but looking at the western transition zone. As you probably have guessed, didn't see a thing.
The visibility was pretty good considering the area. But I didn't see many fish and there were very few corals at all. And no barracudas circled Pat. We tried hard to think of another dive to do, but said this was a fine time to end the mission. We went back to home port, took our scuba gear to the hotel and started doing the deep cleaning that the gear needs.
Out to dinner with Cassandra and Steve from Cleared Ground Demining. They are an NGO that specializes in gathering up unexploded ordnance in old battlefields and disposing of them. It was great to catch up with them.
Now it's back in my lonely writer's garret. The first episode of the new season of Game of Thrones probably just played where you are. So it must be time to come home. Pat, Dan and Jennifer's flight leaves Palau at 0130. Mine leaves at 0430. That's the awful part of the trip. No way around it.
But it was a great year. The Stockbridge Students had a very successful mission. Over the four years they have come out to Palau with us, the students have gotten better at building and deploying their underwater robots. Although it looks like they're going to take next year off from coming to Palau, we're looking forward to having the team and their robot back with us again. San Diego State University had their first presence with us and the three students who came are busy writing their research papers. Since Derek Abbey, their advisor, facilitator, and faculty wonk, won't cut anyone any slack, we're sure the papers will say something meaningful. We got a lot of positive feedback from the locals here about their interactions and questions.
The partnership between Scripps, UDEL, the Coral Reef Research Foundation and BentProp paid off again. We found an Avenger that we've been seeking for several years, which in with a crew of three airmen, for whom this is the first step in their journey home. The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) is here. They're about to concuct a recovery mission at the Hellcat crash site, which our partnership found last year. We're hopeful that DPAA will also do recovery missions at the two Avenger sites before too much time elapses.
Unless something wonderful happens tomorrow during our pack-out and admin day, that's it for this year. Thanks for reading my musings. For updates during the year, please keep visiting the BentProp.org website, and consider making a donation. There are things a-brewin' that may make for interesting reading in the future. But for that, you'll just have to wait for the next update.
By this time tomorrow, the last remaining team members will all be on the way home. Except Joe. He lives here. In paradise.
- Flip Colmer