Update #3

Hello Everyone!

Our first full day here. We all woke up way too early for local activities. We're still on mainland USA time. There was a huge earthquake last night. I seem to be the only one to have felt it. I must be the sensitive one of the group. More than likely it was a large truck passing by while I was half asleep.

We met with Joe our boat captain/guide twice to plot out our activities for the next day or so. Then we hit the Internet caf� for breakfast and a quick scan of our email. I may or may not be able to send these updates via our room phones, and I may, or may not be able to figure out how to send them as attachments via the Internet caf� computer. Luddites really do have it easier.

After breakfast we went food shopping. Our m.o. is to have breakfast and brief the day's mission in one of our rooms which we have designated the 'ready room'. Then Val orchestrates a picnic lunch we take on the boat or van for our treks. After we come out of the jungle or water, we clean up, debrief in the 'ready room' and hit the 'ville for dinner. We spent a bunch on a bunch of food. I think food prices have gone up a little since a year ago.

We also had one hard goods purchase: a new coffee maker. Very necessary for this group. We have 3 different kinds of coffee brought in from the States. Mornings are so much better with a first chemical jolt.

We met with Shinji Chibana, Lenny and JoJo. Shinji lives full time in Palau and is a location services director for movie production companies and tour groups. Lenny and JoJo work for him. Lenny is an expat American and JoJo is an Islander. Shinji is Okinawan by his mother's side of the family. His Mother and Grandmother we both shot by the Japanese during the war. To this day, they still have 'feelings' against the Japanese. Shinji even said the whole family got together to prevent him from going to school in Japan, just to prevent the possibility of him marrying a Japanese girl. And I think this was in the 1980s! The war isn't that long ago for this family.

We then visited with Jonathon. He was a teenager during the war. He worked for awhile for the Japanese civilian government and when the war broke out, the civilian government fell apart and the military took over. He was a message boy for the military police. He saw a B-24 shot down and saw 3 parachutes. One landed in the water. He also saw 3 Americans taken into Japanese headquarters. It is known that Americans were executed in Palau. Some may have been airmen as many airplanes were shot down. A submarine may have been sunk here too. And 3 Navy frogmen were known to have disappeared. He may have been one of the last people to see 3 Americans alive prior to an execution. He made it clear that he did not see any executions, that he had heard rumors of executions and he could not confirm whether these Americans were airmen or sailors.

Back to the room for a happy hour. Get ready for dinner (not hard in the tropics), eat dinner (huge plates of sashimi for $5.00) and go pick up Clem at the airport.

At the airport we looked at the new Wyland mural, talked with the locals who were waiting for folks, shuffled our feet and we all went to the bathroom. No Clem. Clem's bags arrived, but no Clem. I checked with the ticket folks and they had no idea about Clem. DOB, asked the same question, but with a confirmation number and found out that Clem is still in Hawaii and was booked on tomorrow's flight. This is going to be a good story as most of the time you arrive at the destination, but your bags don't. And we had a cold one and a plate of sashimi for him.

Back in the room now. I'll bag some sleep and tomorrow, the hunt truly begins.

I'll continue on with this after tomorrow's searching ends.

TOMORROW has come.

But first, lessons learned:

1. Color fast leather, isn't, in the tropics.

2. Water is cheaper by the gallon.

3. Everyone in a group remembers all you did the previous year, especially the screw ups.

4. No matter what shape you think you're in, the coral outcropping always wins.

5. I'll be there tomorrow night really means that you're not there until you're there.

So we got up early, had an oatmeal breakfast, briefed the days festivities and walked over to Neco Marine for our boat departure for our first adventure in the jungle.

It may be in the 90s as far as temperature, but we were dressed head to toe in nylon and cotton to protect us from the jungle. Plus liberal applications of DEET mosquito repellant. And we all carried 3 liter camelbacks. We had a sighting reported that was along a seawall until you find the house. Then turn left and it's in there. Well, we faced a small channel and some mangroves and decided to be smart for once and get a little better intel prior to entering the jungle. (Calling it a jungle sounds so benign. It's really like a worst case mother-in law. Vines with spines to grab you. Loose coral rocks to roll an ankle with. Slick too so you can slide down the mountain at a moments notice.) We returned to the boat and set sail for the island we searched last year for QB Nelson.

For those that remember the story, QB was a Marine Major who was shot down in April 1945. He never met his son as Jim was born after QB shipped out. Jim was with us last year helping look for his Dad. We did a lot of looking and climbing on that island and we nearly covered the circumference of it. Well, we finished it today. We took the boat to a likely entr�e and we climbed up and down, up and down, up and down. We did a lot of terrain in less time than last year. We even managed to exit the island on foot and walk back to the apartment. Although we 'covered' the island, the plane could still be there. If you walk a line in this jungle, you may not see things 10 feet away. It's that kind of jungle.

No one got hurt this year. No one even fell. The only changes to our looks is that Pat's hands are all black from the dye leaching out of his gloves. My hands are pumpkin colored from my gloves. My hands look much better. I may do this on a regular basis.

But we were bushed. Each of us looked as if we were ready to sleep and it was only 3pm. We cleaned up, had some happy hour snacks, I got 10 gallons of water for our water bags and checked a few service stores to see if they were open. They weren't. It's Sunday here. But we all felt as if we had worked a full week of heavy labor. We got our debrief in and planned the rest of the activities of the day and for tomorrow.

We had an interview planned for 6:30pm with an 87 year old Palauan who may have seen the same Americans as Jonathon. Or they may have been different. Pat did the interview and this old codger had pretty good memory. He seemed to be an honest reporter too. When he couldn't remember, he'd say so. Bottom line, he may have seen some different Americans taken away (coincidentally, 3 in number), but he said they were brought in from Yap. Three Navy Frogmen were known to disappear on Yap and were never heard of again. Maybe we have a lead here. Maybe not.

Then out for a quick dinner as most of us wanted to sleep.

The word is that Clem did not make it out of Hawaii today. Flight was oversold. And as he missed his flight from the day before, and we don't know why yet, he was a low priority to get on today's flight. So, we hope he gets in tomorrow. The film schedule does dictate a little towards the search schedule.

I still am in awe of all those soldiers and Marines who humped a pack and a rifle in this environment. I really haven't worked this hard in my life, except last year on the same islands. And the Japanese soldiers who had to haul concrete up these slopes to make their fortifications. All amazing feats.

So, tomorrow, we're heading towards, well, I'm not sure. But I'm sure we're going to work our butts off. So, more when we get back.

Blue SKies, Flip