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Wreck News & Information - April 30, 2001

EDITORIAL - Do you know John Thomas Byan, USNR?

CILHI MIA Conference April 10-12, Port Moresby
Aerothentic Update - MIA Information & New Sections

Nate Gordon - PBY Pilot, Metal of Honor Recipient Kavieng Mission

Stan Gajda - Thirty Years of Wreck Hunting
Henry Sakaida - Author of Japanese Aces Series
Phil Bradley - B-17E Black Cat Pass Photos & Earnest Harris' P-40N

P-47 Restoration - HARS, Sydney
Ponape & Kusaie - New Database Sections!
MIA Profiles - New Profiles Added

Book Review - Handbook of Japanese Forces
Links - Featured Internet Sites


1. Message from the Creator


Another exciting update full of interviews, information and coverage of Pacific Wreck related news for April. It has been a busy month, with several collaborators to the site attending the CILHI (Central Identification Laboratory, Hawaii) MIA conference in Port Moresby. This is the US Army group responsible for investigating MIA cases worldwide. This month's veteran interview is a continuation of coverage of the February 11, 1944 Kavieng mission. I am honored to present an interview with PBY pilot and Medal of Honor winner Nate Gordon who rescued fifteen ditched airmen during four landings in the harbor under enemy fire.

Do you know John Thomas Byan? of the USNR? His dog tag was found underwater off Havanah Bay Beach,Vanuatu. There are many dogtags on the sandy bottom where swimming soldiers and sailors lost them during the many years of the war when this area was a rear area for relaxing and staging point for thousands.

Plus, lots more! Read on!

- Justin


2.   CILHI MIA Conference, Port Moresby

CILHI MIA Conference

The US military is taking extra initiative to resolve Pacific MIA cases. Bolstered by a spate of recent successes in the Pacific theater, especially the recovery of US airmen from WWII, mainly from the US Fifth Air Force, the Central Identification Laboratory in Hawaii (CILHI) held a conference in Port Moresby from 10 - 12 April 2001 to which they invited the who's who of Pacific wartime archaeology and history. Also included were a contingent from the Royal Australian Air Force who have expertise in this field.

The conference was a remarkable success. In their vision to assemble a panel of worldwide experts, CILHI both learned and imparted invaluable information about tracing the lost airmen of WW2 in this hostile theater.


3.   Aerothentic Update - MIA Information & New Sections

Aerothentic publications, the Fifth Air Force experts, have expanded on three interesting sections in their site -

MIA Cases: Resolved and Unresolved

This section details over a dozen of the most intriguing cases in 5th AF history. All are presented in amazing detail and span over fifteen years of discoveries in New Guinea.

Writings by men of the Fifth

The literary quality of these writings varies from raw to the sophisticated, but all are expressive, historically valuable, and each writer has his own unique expression. Most have never been previously published, and there is nothing like hearing the words of the men themselves.

Unusual Fifth Air Force Stories

We are still building this unique section which promises to bring you unusual events in Fifth Air Force history, all backed up with field research, official records, diary extracts, or whatever else it takes. This is a new section and will take a while to build, so bear with us !

Photos Section
Has also expanded, and the commentary in their captions is revealing, to say the least


4.   Veterans Speak

Nate Gordon - PBY Pilot & Medal of Honor Recipient

Exclusive Interview! Gordon made four stall landings in his Black Cat PBY in rough waters of Kavieng harbor to collect ditched survivors of the strike. Coming under intense enemy fire, he and his crew located and picked up 15 Army fliers shot down during the attack. His actions on this day earned him the Medal of Honor. Thanks to Michael Claringbould for additional research, and to Steve Smith and Bruce Petty for their help.

Seeking Veterans!
Are you a veteran of the Feburary 11, 1944 Kavieng Mission? Please email me. As always, seeking any WWII Pacific veterans, share your stories and service. Know a WWII Pacific veteran? Interview them, and have the interview included. Help our understanding of the past grow.



5.   Interview - Stan Gajda

Stan Gajda- Thirty Years of Wreck Hunting

Stan Gajda's amazing career spans thirty years. His personally funded journeys have taken him all over Australia and the Pacific in search of aircraft, history and the legacy of WWII. Read about his experiences in the 1970's in Western Australia where relics of the war were often undisturbed or easily located in scrap yards. As his his interest grew, so did his travels across the Pacific. He is currently based at Ponape in Micronesia.

Japanese Type 95 Tank Restoration
Gajda's current restoration project on Ponape where he is completing the restoration of an fully authentic Type 95 tank, complete with all original parts, and even a work guns and motor.


6. Interview - Henry Sakaida


The author of the Japanese Aces books for Osprey and the Siege of Rabaul, Mr. Sakaida is one of the few English language authors writing exclusively on Japanese pilots and their wartime experiences. For those outside Japan, his books have opened a window to previously unknown cast of pilots and history who flew in Japanese cockpits.


7. Phil Bradley
- B-17E Black Cat Pass Photos & Earnest Harris' P-40N

Long time collaborator Phil Bradley contributes an amazing set of Black Cat Pass B-17 photos and description of the wreck site. Also, the history of Earnest Harris' P-40N cockpit recovered to Classic Jets Museum in Australia.

Black Cat Pass B-17

Ernest Harris' P-40N



8. P-47 Restoration - HARS, Sydney


HARS, Sydney

In the final installment of the Walkabout 2000 ongoing section, we end at the restoration hanger of Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) in Sydney. They are restoring a razorback P-47 recovered from Popondetta. Visit the site to see photos of the restoration and a tour of the facility with president, Robert Greinert .

P-47 Walkaround
Walkaround of the restoration progress as of August, 2000
See photos of the restoration project, and learn the identity of this aircraft and full historical details, including serial number, date of crash and unit. Also, interesting finds in the restoration like cartoon drawing inside the airframe, and about what using Oxy-Acetylene does to aircraft wrecks.



9. Ponape & Kusaie - New Database Sections Added!

As always, the database is expanding every month. This month, I am happy to launch new sections on two important Japanese held islands in Micronesia. Thanks to everyone who has contributed information, photographs and history to these two sections.

Ponape (Pohnpei)

Kusaie (Kosrae)


10. MIA Profiles - New Profiles Added


MIA P-38H-1 Virgil Hagen

MIA B-25J Between Palawan and Leyte June 6, 1945

MIA B-25 "Hung Low" August 13, 1944 off Kao Bay, Halmahera Island

MIA RNZAF SBD Dauntless failed to return from a strike on Lakunai.

MIA B-24 Liberator Lost off HaHa Jima, Bonin Islands on 10 February 1945

MIA F4U Lossuk Bay area of New Ireland


11.  Reviews

Japanese Forces Handbook Review

Review by Phil Bradley. The first editions of this book appeared in 1942 to fill a chronic need for intelligence data on an enemy about whom there was more than an element of mythology associated. The book was compiled by a Washington based group of intelligence experts, helped by British and Australian intelligence data from the battlefield. As David Isby states in his introduction, accuracy was not just desirable, it could be a matter of life and death. It contained data that could be relied on in combat and now nearly 60 years on, the researcher looking for accuracy in writing on the Japanese armed forces of WWII can also rely on it.

Have you read a good book related to WWII Pacific?
Submit a review for the site!



12.  Links of the Month
Tons of great links for your pleasure and bookmark list

Aerial Victory Credit Database
Thanks to Phil Bradley for this amazing database link!

Stalag 13 Aviation Links
Thanks to Aerothentic Publications for this link

Military Art, History & Models
Great link with excellent photos of Rabaul, history and other items of interest

WWII History Links
Thanks to Peter Flahavin for this link.

A Tour of Ponape
Photos and information by Mark Haun

Japanese Infantry Organization
Links from Peter Flahavin

Canal August 7, 1942 Photos
Thanks to Peter Flahavin for this link.

USMC Memoirs of W. Paull
Thanks to Peter Flahavin for this link.


# # # End of Wreck News April 30, 2001 # # #

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