P-MAN VII Update
Monday, 14 March
Today was going to be a down day for Mike and me, a fun day for Mark and Jennifer, and a media day for Pat and Joe. Pat spent the early part of the day working on a very preliminary draft report to give to the Historical Preservation Office (HPO) before we leave. Pat was also scheduled to spend some time with the local media people making a public-service spot about BentProp to run on local TV. Mike and I went to town and spent some time at the PALARIS office, discussing the possibility that we can obtain, later this year, some updated sattelite imagery of Palau that they expect to be getting. Looks like it'll be possible. Early this morning, Mark and Jennifer went out snorkeling in the rock islands with Joe.
We've been trying to arrange an interview with a 102-year-old Palauan gentleman who's the grandfather of one of the boat drivers at Sam's. There's considerable urgency about talking to him, as you might imagine - waiting till next year might not be a good idea. Depending on what we have to do tomorrow, Mike may go to interview him by himself while Pat and I go out to the airport to meet the JPAC team.
The schedule for a meeting tomorrow morning with the Palauan Minister of State kept sliding around, so we couldn't firm up a time to meet with the older gentleman. We also want to meet with the JPAC land team, which is scheduled to arrive mid-afternoon tomorrow, and probably have dinner with them. We had lunch and went over to HPO, hoping to catch Rita Ulsudong there. She was there, and Pat was able to give her the draft preliminary report.
On the way out, we finally got to talk briefly with Fuana, who works downstairs from HPO and whom we've been trying to get to see for several weeks. Turns out Fuana's father actually saw the new Aimeliik Avenger get shot down, and saw one of the crew parachute out safely. She says the airman swam back to the island and appeared to be uninjured, but was captured and beheaded by the Japanese, who may have buried him nearby. Whoa! That's a lot of important information to get on the last interview day! And she volunteered to take us by boat to the general area to point out where the airman was captured and killed. But tomorrow's schedule is almost full!
This afternoon Pat and Joe joined a local video production group, sponsored by Pacific Savings Bank, Ltd., to tape an extended public-service program to be run on local television. The group went out on a boat, and did the interview with the Dixon B-24 wing in the background. There's been an increasing amount of local interest in our efforts, and the opportunity is there to keep that interest up and possibly generate more leads that we can address next year. Did I just say next year? Is it really time to leave already?
We finally managed to schedule the interview with the Minister for 9:30 in the morning, and JAPAC arrives a little after 2 in the afternoon. Maybe we can arrange for a quick boat ride with Fuana after meeting with the Minister. Just won't know till morning. In any case, we've got to be packed by early tomorrow evening, when we'll be having dinner with JPAC before heading out to the airport ourselves. We leave at 1:50 a.m. on Wednesday.
Tonight we had a delightfully weird dinner at Krämer's, with the BentProppers, Joe and Esther, Bert, Lenny and his wife, and Megan Poyant and a friend. Conversation ranged from local politics and POWs to movie trivia. Gonna miss this bunch.