P-MAN IX Update #01
06 February 2007

Hello Everyone!

It’s that time of the year again. Bags are being packed and shipped. Airline tickets that were purchased months ago are being searched for. Plans are being made so we have something to deviate from, again! Yes, we’re heading back to The Republic of Palau for The BentProp Project’s annual search for MIAs from World War II.

But first, lessons learned.

  1. Don’t ship your bag the day you pack it. Even with a list, you’ll leave something out.
  2. TSA’s one quart bag and 3oz fluid limits don’t allow you much sunscreen lotion for a month in the tropics.
  3. Nothing beats reality for weirdness of events. Sometimes you just can’t possibly make this stuff up.
  4. One full year between missions doesn’t give you enough time to return to the Archives after you’ve uncovered another rabbit warren of information.
  5. This story still resonates with people of all ages and backgrounds.

Let's introduce the members of this year’s expedition. All photos by Flip Colmer unless otherwise noted.

Pat Scannon. The Boss, BentProp Founder, Chief Medical Officer, Head Safety Man, Mentor.

Pat has been leading teams to Palau for over 12 years. Some years the team count was one, but an expedition nonetheless. He takes the team wherever there is a chance for success in finding the lost heroes of World War II. To read up on the entire history of The BentProp Project and the history of this part of the world, check out reports here on the BentProp Web site from earlier expeditions.

Dan O’Brien (DOB): Filmmaker, Fund Raiser, Fun Raiser, Skydiving Legend, Land Safety Officer, Chief Oatmeal Maker (damn good, too).

DOB got Flip addicted to this part of the world. Thank you, DOB. He switches hats from year to year. Sometimes he’s a filmmaker and sometimes he’s a trekker. This year, he’s a grunt trekker, except if he sees something he wants to film. He and Jennifer Powers-Krazny are partners in The BentStar Project which has made a film about searching for the missing in action and their families. Check out their Web site at www.bentstarproject.org. They will be hosting Flip's blog this year at www.bentstarproject.org/flip. And this is hot off the presses. Their film, "Last Flight Home: Searching For And Finding MIAs", has been accepted into the Memphis International Film Festival. It will be in Memphis, TN on March 22-25. Make your plans and go.

Bob Holler: CMSgt (Bob, forgive this Navy man. Air Force ranks confuse the hell out of me.) USAF-RET, Skydiver Extraordinaire, Land Safety Officer2, Land Navigator (I think).

Unknown photographer. ID photo?
This is the only photo Bob sent me
when I asked for one.

This will be Bob’s first mission with The BentProp Project. He was recommended from a variety of sources and passed the excruciatingly long interview process. He retired from the Air Force having spent his entire time as a PJ (para rescue). Folks in general talk about steely eyed men in the military. Bob is one. He served us well all over the world. Today he enjoys the well earned rewards of retirement. Bob is our connection this year to the U.S. Army Air Forces that plied the unfriendly skies 60+ years ago.

Bob and his men. Unknown photographer.

Derek Abbey ("Cosmo"): Captain USMC, F/A-18 WSO. We’ll find some title for him out in the field.

Derek. Photo by Some Marine.

Derek. Self-Portrait over Iraq.

I have not met Derek yet, but he impressed Pat so much that an invite was proffered. He is still flying F/A-18s (sigh) with The United States Marine Corps and is enroute from Iraq to CONUS and on to Palau with us. He is the connection this year for us with the Marines who fought on these islands so long ago.

Last but not least, Flip Colmer: Airline pilot, Former Naval Aviator, former SCUBA instructor, team Water Safety Officer, Land Photographer.

Flip in the front office
of his Northwest Airbus.


Some of the usual suspects are not going to Palau this year.

Reid Joyce, the webmaster and mapping master is taking care of family this year and is unable to attend. He's staying home to post these updates on the Web site and to keep me honest. Or at least to make me appear honest. To some extent.


Mike Olds is deep in his studies to be a lawyer. Well, at least that’s what he’s telling us. You know the story, “you buy them books and pencils and all they do is………”


Bill Belcher is unable to join us due to the ‘needs of the service.’ Bill is a forensic anthropologist with JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) and he does this stuff for a living. When we get some intel of where to look, he’s the guy we send it to.

Bill, striking the "anthro-pose," made famous by his idol,
Indiana Jones. The pose is only slightly less dramatic
when he's leaning on a shovel.

Reid, Mike and Bill, you will all be missed.

We’ve been to The National Archives a bunch of times. Each time we go, we think that we’ve seen all there is to see. By the end of the following week, we know we have to go back. Katie Rasdorf and Mark Swank, both extremely skillful volunteer researchers in the Washington, D.C. area, have been putting in many hours at NARA's research center in College Park, Maryland. Thank you for all your efforts.

Katie Rasdorf

Mark Swank

The first order of business is to interview Dr. Don Shuster who is a professor at The University of Guam. He’s been researching the execution of missionaries in Palau during the war, but he's also spent some time slogging around in the jungle with the BentProp team. We’re going to brainstorm a bit and see if we can think outside of the box with him.

Don Shuster, soaked but apparently happy after
a muddy tromp in the woods with the team in 2006.

Then we'll meet up with Pat and we'll all arrive in Palau on the night of the 14th.

Chat with you later.

Blue Skies, Flip