Hello, Fellow BentProppers!

I sat down to write a 'report from the field' about my visit with Eleanore McEnroe, Jim Nelson's Mom. Nothing seemed quite right so I kept putting it aside. I was hoping to have a really wonderful "world according to Flip" message for Memorial Day. I guess I'm a better field reporter when I'm dog tired with a few mango and rums in me. Wasn't Vic Morrow the journalist like that? No wait, he starred in Combat. But I think he was like that anyway.

I did have a wonderful visit with Eleanore. She told me how she and Quintus had met, how they went to different colleges, how she got her pilot's license before Q.B. got his wings, and how much our efforts mean to her and Jim. She asked many questions about our trek and our finds.

She had already seen the video footage from the dive site and I filled in some blanks about what she was looking at. We also looked at my photo collection on my laptop. I'm still technology challenged. Next time I'll have a different camera and different software.

She introduced me to Marilyn Hagerty, a writer/columnist for the Grand Forks Herald. I've included the article she wrote for this last Memorial Day [2003] paper. The article that ran in the paper included some photos, but unfortunately, the archives online at the Herald does not include pictures. I'll bring my issue to DCA to show Pat. As it turns out, Pat and the Q.B. story have appeared 3 times in the Grand Forks Herald. Pat is becoming quite the celebrity in this North Dakota community. When I went to the Blue Moose for dinner, the bartender said, "Oh, you're a friend of Pat Scannon. For you, my very good friend, the price is doubled."

I wanted to paint the correct picture of this visit. I think Jim's Mom did it the best with her thank you note. Here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Dear Flip,

I want to thank you so much for taking the time to come to Grand Forks to see me. Your visit was great and very informative. Please thank all the others for all you have done for Jim and me. I feel like I know them after watching the videos, and Jim telling me about each individual.

We now have closure on Quint's death. You have no idea what peace of mind that has given both of us.

Flip, I am pleased that you were able to meet my friend Marilyn. I am enclosing the article she wrote for Memorial Day. I am also sending that picture you asked for. I can't imagine who would be interested it. Maybe the skis are a bit unusual, but that was North Dakota in 1941.

Thank you again and all the BentProp group. We shall be forever grateful.

Sincerely, Eleanore

Well campers, that is what I did on my spring vacation. I think I have an update #11 to send that will include this visit, the Nelson Soirée and our upcoming trip to DCA and the archives. Anyone have any objections or editorial comments to make?

All the best to all of you. See you when I see you.

Blue SKies, Flip


Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Herald (ND)
May 25, 2003


Marilyn Hagerty
Edition: FINAL
Section: E- LIFE
Page: 01
Estimated printed pages: 3

Article Text:

Killed in action.

That's all there was.

No other information about where the plane of Marine Maj. Quintus B. Nelson went down. No remains. No remnants of the single engine Corsair. Nothing. Just the KIA message at the end of World War II. All through life, there has been this gnawing feeling inside Jim Nelson, the son of the Marine from Grand Forks - a feeling that information other than "shot down by anti-aircraft fire" must be available about his father's last mission. And that maybe, just possibly, his crash site and remains would be located. This year on Memorial Day, there is a sense of peace for Jim Nelson, who grew up in Grand Forks and is an attorney in Houston. At 59, he has a sense of closure. That's because a search team in March found remnants of the plane that his father had been flying. The search party and historians agree it has to be the plane. Parts were found in water off a Palauan Island named Ngermalk in the South Pacific. Remnants of the plane were entangled in coral that has grown around it in the harbor since April of 1945. You would think that an airplane that went down 58 years ago in a remote part of the world would be long forgotten. But Jim Nelson learned in the past few years there are people who care about recovering the wreckage. They do it to help write the final chapter for the families of those who gave their lives. The hand of fate? A series of coincidences over the past two years led up to the discovery of the airplane:

  • Jim Nelson was playing golf in Bemidji in the summer of 2001 with Wally Webber, who mentioned he was a fighter pilot during World War II. Nelson's ears perked up. He said his father also was a fighter pilot who was reported killed in action, but whose remains or plane were never found. Webber told Nelson he flew out of the same airstrip as his father and told him of Pat Scannon, a medical doctor and chemist who heads up the BentProp Project - an exclusive group of explorers dedicated to finding planes and ships lost in World War II.
  • Jim Nelson went to San Francisco and met the head of the BentProp Project. Also present was Walter Meyer, who had been Quint Nelson's commanding officer. Their conversation over lunch lasted six hours. Pat Scannon had been searching for Quint Nelson's plane since 1996 and was excited to meet Jim Nelson. Usually, he meets families after discovering wreckage. In this case, he actually knew the family as the search was in progress.
  • In April of 2002, Jim and his wife, Neel, flew to the Palau Islands and stayed 11 days. Nelson joined the BentProp expedition team as they beat their way through uninhabited jungle areas on two coral islands that jut abruptly out of the sea. Little did they know that the parts of the plane they were looking for were 50 feet away in the water in the harbor of one of the islands. The explorers and Nelson visited with people who were there when the islands were liberated by Americans. They saw the small airstrip from which Maj. Nelson made his last flight.
  • In March of 2003, the BentProp Project explorers were again on an expedition to the Palau Islands in search of ships, planes and those listed as missing in action from World War II. At that time, a landscaping crew from the marina spotted an anchor in the harbor. When they went in to get it, they found an aluminum wheel from a Corsair. And a series of dives turned up more Corsair wreckage that had been quietly buried in the blue waters for 58 years.

With that coincidence, the BentProp explorers were elated. They called Nelson in Houston. And he was stunned. Overwhelmed. Nelson told Pat Scannon: "Prior to meeting you, I believed those missing heroes from World War II and particularly those missing in a remote place called Palau had long been forgotten and would never be located." Nelson said he gained a full understanding of the difficulty of locating aircraft and airmen on his trip to the Palau Islands in 2002. He had begun to reluctantly accept the fact that his father's aircraft might never be located. Now he hopes to go back to the crash site in the spring of 2004. Jim Nelson was 4 months old when his father went to the Pacific. Quint Nelson grew up in Grand Forks and graduated from Central High School. He went to Carleton College on an athletic scholarship before going into military service. Nelson's mother, Eleanore McEnroe, lives in Grand Forks. In April this year, Nelson hosted the entire BentProp expedition team and their spouses in Houston to say thanks. Nelson invited a few of his neighbors who had served in the South Pacific during World War II to meet them. Among the guests were former President Bush and his wife, Barbara. Nelson, his family and the World War II veterans had a chance to express profound gratitude to the BentProp team. Until this spring, the only memorial to Quintus B. Nelson was a post-war monument in the Philippines. This year, his son knows where he crashed. He has the final chapter.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at mhagerty@gfherald.com or telephone 772-1055 or 780-1124. Copyright (c) 2003 Grand Forks Herald Record Number: 0305250075