P-MAN VIII Update #7
20 February 2006

This morning, as planned, we had breakfast with Abby. Except for that part about Abby. He didn't show up - our first major no-show of 2006.

We picked up Don Shuster a bit later and went over to the President's office, where we had a meeting with Billy Kuartei, President Remengesau's chief of staff. We discussed various ways we might establish a dialog with the Japanese that could be beneficial to attempts by both the Americans and the Japanese to repatriate remains of war dead. In our searches over the years, we've encountered - and cataloged - many Japanese aircraft crash sites, shipwrecks, and cemeteries. The problem is, we have yet to discover anyone who is interested in this information from the Japanese perspective.

Pat Scannon and Don Shuster confer with Billy Kuartei,
the President's Chief of Staff, about ways to share our information
with the Japanese. © Reid Joyce 2006

We know that there have sometimes been concerns from the Japanese perspective that efforts such as ours are motivated by a desire for retribution. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We do what we do because we deeply believe in the value of returning remains of war dead to their homeland for burial. We're Americans, and we have information about American service members who died here - but we believe that the Japanese who died here in Palau deserve equally to be returned to their homes and families. We would be honored to provide the information that we've accumulated about Japanese sites to the Japanese. If we could establish a dialog with those who have information from the Japanese perspective about wartime here in Palau, we could surely help each other.

Right after lunch we met Billy Kuartei again, and headed back up to Police Hill with Billy. He has known about the location and our interest in it, but had never been there before. A real plus was that he contacted Jon Vogt, who works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who was able to get us permission to go past a barricade that's been erected on the east road. The detour that originates at the barricade is a bone-jarring loop that adds about a 20 minutes to the trip to Police Hill. Instead of the long, rough detour, if you've got friends in high places you go directly to the hill on a nice, smooth, new road - for about 5 minutes.

At the hill, we pointed out to Billy and Jon what we've learned about the area so far, and explained the information we've received from interviews and tribunal records.

Atop "Police Hill." L-R: Jon Vogt, Mike Olds, Billy Kuartei, Pat Scannon,
Joe Maldangesang, Dan O'Brien. © Reid Joyce 2006

Billy and Jon then departed, and with only a couple of hours left in the afternoon, we chose to explore a wooded area close to the hill. We found considerable evidence that part of the area in the woods was either a hospital or an area where medical supplies and equipment were stored. But we found nothing else that appears to be pertinent to our mission.

Back in Koror, we made a short visit to the elderly gentleman who we believe has some information about the Avenger up at Fuana's place. He was home but very busy, so we set up a time in a couple of weeks when we can come back and interview him again, now that we have more information about that site. He also agreed in principle to coming with us on the boat to show us exactly where he found the piece of fuselage and wing from which he salvaged some parts.

We had stopped on the way home at the Airai branch of Bem Ermii for burgers and shakes, so we actually made it back to our rooms, fed and ready to crash, before 7:00. I can't remember the last time that happened.

For the first time in recent memory, the team grabs an early dinner
at Bem Ermii, our favorite burger shop. © Reid Joyce 2006

- Reid