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by Jennifer Powers
Daniel T. O'Brien
Post Star Productions 2007
Cover Price: $19.95
|Last Flight Home
Searching For And Finding MIAs
This documentary covers the complete history of several Missing In Action (MIA) aircraft over Palau and the efforts of Dr. Pat Scannon and his organization Bent Prop: a group of volunteers who share an interest in honoring the history of the Pacific war, and solving MIA cases
Their efforts are entirely self-funded and focus on the Palau Islands. Scannon's interest began when he visited Palau and saw the wing of a B-24 bomber. He wondered how the bomber crashed, and who flew aboard it. This interest expanded to include all American aircraft lost over theses islands, and especially MIA cases.
The video reveals the jigsaw puzzle of clues that a aircraft wreck presents: data plates, stencils and luck lead to a positive identification. The first half of the video covers their discovery of the wreckage of TBF Avenger 16956 on a jungle ridge line. The search is inter cut with compelling Interviews with the relatives of each of the crew members, who share the details of their lives leading up to their disappearance. [ View sample clips: Mary Ellen Stuart-Roberts quicktime 3.6 mb and Arthur C. Miller's son quicktime 5.2 mb ]
The team traces the story of B-24M "Brief" 44-42058, whose demise was recorded in vivid film sequence, showing the bomber hit in the wing by anti-aircraft fire and breaking apart.
BentProp's explorations continue year after year, and the audience is introduced to islanders who they have befriended. These witnesses share memories of the war, including executions of prisoners and details about wrecks.
Their efforts result in formal investigations by the US military's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). On one of their trips, BentProp is joined by the Nelson family. Together, they search for FG-1D Corsair 76471 and perform a moving memorial service on the exact day of his loss.
The second half of the documentary covers the search for B-24J 42-73453. This bomber was hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, crashed into the sea. Three crew members bailed out. After extensive searches, BentProp discovered the wreckage underwater.
The film has a haunting and simple musical score. Wartime photos, letters and telegrams read by family members bring the face of the missing to life. This video captures the type of exploration and dedication required to find and identify an aircraft wreck. Also, the powerful stories of family members and those who see that these men are not forgotten. The Last Flight Home is a powerful video that should not be missed. Kudos to Scannon and the filmmakers on their quest and amazing efforts.
Review by Justin Taylan
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