The BentProp Project
Anderson Cooper: “Whenever they find a site where a plane has gone down, they actually hold a ceremony. They unfurl an American flag and a Palaun flag and they recite this poem.”
“For the Fallen,” by Laurence Binyon, September 1914
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them…
The BentProp Project is a 501(c)3 corporation headquartered in Northern California. The project comprises a team of volunteers, each with essential expertise (history, aviation, diving, navigation), who are dedicated to locating and assisting with identifying American prisoners of war and missing in action (POW/MIA) from World War II in the western Pacific islands.
BentProp’s mission is to repatriate every American service member who has not come home, and to provide information and closure to their families. In doing so, the project has created a platform to educate the public on the importance of service to one’s country and provide educational opportunities in the arenas of science, history, leadership, and diplomacy to select students.
The BentProp Project is the subject of “The Last Flight Home,” a documentary by Dr. Patrick Scannon, featured at the website of the 307th Bomb Group. CBS’s 60 Minutes aired coverage of the project on Nov. 23, 2014, with Anderson Cooper. BentProp also maintains a Facebook page.
“The Last Flight Home” is a film about the BentProp Project’s work in the isles of Palau, intertwined with the story of the 307th Bomb Group. Dr. Scannon’s description of BentProp’s beginning appears in the documentary along with the stories of three missing aircraft, the men who crewed them, and the families affected by their loss. One of the featured stories is that of Tommy Doyle, the son of a 307th tail gunner.
The Palau islands were the scene of ferocious battles nearly forgotten by history, yet more than 200 US aircraft went down on and around the islands. Almost half of the downed aircraft had crew who have been lost for more than 60 years. All their families received was a telegram: WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN, MISSING IN ACTION. But over the generations, these families have refused to forget and refused to stop waiting for answers, for some clue as to what happened. That’s what keeps the BentProp Project going.
“The Last Flight Home” was filmed over the course of nearly 6 years and 7 expeditions to Palau, where the group found a fascinating adventure. What they didn’t expect was that the real adventure—the heart of the story—lay here in the United States with the families.
It is gratifying to know that vital efforts continue to reveal the heroism of the fading membership of this “Greatest Generation.”
Posted on November 24, 2014, in education, Journalism, memorials, news, Nonprofit groups, World War II and tagged 60 Minutes, airplane recovery, MIAs, patriotism, POWs, search and rescue, veterans, World War II. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.