Update #6

Hello Everyone!

Lessons Learned

1. If you have the guns, you get to make the rules.
2. Everyone likes a good ghost story.
3. We miss Val and Kate.
4. Okay, we really miss Val’s lunches.
5. Scuba masks float if you previously purchased those geeky looking strap wraps. Yes!

Today was our last working day on the B-24. We feel we have done about as much as we can in determining where this site is, how far it extends, if there might be remains inside and the general lay of the coral head. It’s now up to all the government agencies that have their hands in this cookie jar to decide what to do. Until then, this site has been placed off limits by the Palauan government. And since they have the guns, you better stay away.

The Palauan President had a press conference today commending Pat and his work. He also told the world to stay away from this site. He wants to protect the site, and the memories of what transpired there. A crew gave their lives and he does not want the site looted. So unless you have a spare billion dollars to give me, my lips are sealed.

We did two dives on the airplane and some snorkeling around another coral head that was identified in 1947 as having a B-24 on it. We did not see anything but pretty fishes on the snorkeling trip and feel that the B-24 that we found is the one referenced in 1947. And we ate a lot better today than yesterday: one loaf of banana bread, some Pringles, a package of brownies all washed down with Maui Maid fruit ‘like’ juice drinks.

Pat gave another interview to another newspaper here. He’s turning into quite the media superstar. But it goes to show that there is a lot of interest in uncovering the history of the area.

We had one of the best plates of sashimi tonight at Sam’s Tours. Also an espresso chip milkshake at the Internet Café. I think that pretty well covers the food groups out here in Palau.

Tomorrow, the 12th, was supposed to be a full day, but seems like it’s becoming a down day. Breakfast at nine, and then Pat is prepping for his talk, Pete is standing by to fill in photos and video in the PowerPoint presentation, Dan is doing television stuff, Reid is probably working on the website and I don’t know what I’ll end up doing. But there is some sort of adventure coming my way. I’ll let you know.

It’s tomorrow. 12 Feb 04

The rooster in the neighborhood woke me up at ‘oh dark thirty’. Ate at the hotel snack bar and the team rallied. Seems that everyone had a duty to perform and mine was to correlate 1944/45/46 photography of the western reef with photos that we took a few weeks ago. When we were at the National Archives, we saw some suspect images taken during the aerial survey of the islands at the end of the war. In a number of places, there were shapes that sure looked like airplanes. As an example, near Carlson Island, which Joe calls Snake Island, where we found 3 Japanese aircraft last year, there is a 1945 photo of an airplane sitting on the reef. Maybe we can find more such sites.

So, with Joe looking on, we compared old photos with new photos. We pinpointed yesteryear’s location with today’s landmarks. Joe says he knows the area and that we can get the boat there. But we have to do it at slack tide. Seems that the current over the reef is pretty strong when the tide is going in or out. We’ll have to time this just right to give us about an hour of calm looking time. This will probably happen after Saturday.

That ended my tasks for the day. Now I’m just sitting and helping. I helped everyone to decide that a lunch break was in order. Off to lunch, and the internet.

Back in the ready room, Pat is still hard at work. Brought him a cheeseburger and fries that he said rivaled the ‘truckstop’. I think his presentation will be grand and the locals and tourists are in for a treat. He also says there is going to be a test and that everyone on the team better study.

I’ve been replaced as the technologist of the group. Two much more qualified propeller heads are part of the team: Reid and Pete. Reid is the webmaster for the BentProp website and Pete is the cameraman for PostStar. Both know how to manipulate electrons better than I do. So I don’t have to spend every waking moment figuring out what to put on the website. They can do that. All I have to do is keep you entertained!

We went to Sam’s Tours for a pre-meeting sashimi and Red Rooster happy hour. JPAC, The Seabees and the BentProp team were hosted by Pat for dinner. People started pouring in. All the seats were taken. At the appointed hour, 1913:27, the meeting started. And now I have a ghost story to tell you.

First off, I do cry at some movies. I freely admit it. Not all movies mind you. Just some. You may not think that very manly, but Rebecca loves me anyway. She doesn’t make too much fun of me when I do it. Just enough to let me know to straighten up. But I digress.

Right as Pat was being introduced, a cool breeze wafted across my neck. It felt as if someone had puffed at/on me. I had been standing on the balcony all evening and not one breeze caressed me before that.

I moved to the middle of the room and the intro video started. This is the trailer that PostStar Productions created to try and sell their documentary. I have seen it well over a hundred times and it never has affected me as it did tonight. This time, I could not help crying the entire time. And I had the feeling that there were more people watching the film, and me, than I could see. And as the movie ended, so did my weepiness.

Pat confided that as we left the B-24 yesterday, he turned and saluted the aircraft. After all, it is a gravesite. Just at that time, 5 streams of bubbles came out of the wreckage. Coincidence? Spooky? Pat says he has never had a feeling such as this from any of the wrecks he has discovered. Stranger things have happened, and I’m sure Rebecca will give me a little ration when she gets this. But hey! You’re paying for a good story and I have to deliver.

Sam, of Sam’s Tours, invited us once again to go on a boat/dive trip and see a Mariner aircraft that sank in the islands. It’s a long boat ride, and the weather/winds have to be just right, but we are scheduled for that on Tuesday. We may have even found a picture of the exact aircraft in the Archives prior to its sinking.

I’m back in the room on 12 February at almost 10pm. Late start tomorrow. 0845 drive to pick up a local who knows of an airplane just above one of the mangroves around Koror. And he’s going to take us there. If you remember one of my previous lessons learned, if they’re willing to take you, you have a better chance of finding something. And finally I get to go in the jungle. Enough of this water stuff. So until the next update, see ya!

Blue Skies, Flip