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Yaeyama Mainichi Shinbun "Iriomote Sonai Ceremony conducted locally, finally on the way to home country" May 21, 1988

(Photo caption) Consul General offering to the unknown servicemen covered by the American flag. The locals and others related to the recovery participated and prayed after 43 years of the crash.

“I wish the soul will rest in peace”.

The remains of the US military pilots, which had been sunk off the coast of Sonai in Iriomote Island, were recovered by the US Army divers on the morning of the 20th, and were given the prayer. The bones collected during the diving this morning were six pieces that seems to be arm or foot. It was carefully placed in a casket and wrapped by the American flag. At the memorial service, 50 people including the residents in Sonai and Hoshidate and other related officials attended, and gave a prayer for peace and success of the identification of the pilot who was withdrawn from the dark seabed for the first time in 43 years. Consul General Richardson swore on the perpetual peace saying that "the remains speak out about the preciousness of life and the importance of peace, and we have the responsibility to protect and carry on these peaceful days." He also appreciated the cooperation of Taketomi Town.

The U.S. military aircraft, believed to have been shot down, sank near the small island from Sonai called "Marumabosan". The slope was about 500 meters from the coast, and was about 25 meters deep.

The recovery of the remains was performed from 10:30 in the morning. Two specialists from Hawaii, Captain Beni Uda and Sergeant Gaife Wini, the discoverer of the airplane, Shiro Ikema, and a female diver from Uehara district who confirmed the piece of human bones dived.

The piece of skull previously confirmed could not be found because the diving time in this morning was short, only 25 minutes, but several pieces of the human bone were put on the net one after another.

The remains attached by the corals seems to indicate the long time sitting under water. The F4U Corsair, sank to the seabed, has dispersed bodies, widely scattered its pieces, but some parts that could help confirm the model and identification were collected with the human remains.

After this, a memorial service was held by the town from 2 pm. Every participant, including the Consul General offered the flowers to comfort the soul of the serviceman while the Father gave the words and the monody was sung.

Also, Mr. Maekawa Kenichi, Deputy General Manager of the welfare section of the town office, and Mr. Yoho Miyara, the director of the Hoshidate district stated, “We pray that the body who slept in the cold and dark seabed will be identified and was able to return to the family as soon as possible”, and "The tragedy of the war should never be repeated again".

In addition, Captain Uda said, "Supported by your friendship, we are able to bring back his body today. We will do our best to return it to the families." The recovery work will be continued until the 22nd, and the human remains collected will be identified at the Institute of Medical and Human in Hawaii.
Credit: Yaeyama Mainichi Shinbun Date: May 21, 1988
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