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The Joint POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Command from the Defense Department has announced on Monday that the crash site of the World War II Coast Guard rescue aircraft Grumman Duck has been located after 70 years.
The exhaustive search by an expedition team consisting of U.S. Coast Guard members and North South Polar Inc scientists and explorers used historical information, ground penetrating radar, a magnetometer and metal detection equipment to find the location where the Grumman Duck crashed on November 29, 1942. It wasn’t until the end of the seven day expedition that radar contact was made. After zeroing in on the likely location of the resting place of the “Duck” beneath the ice near Koge Bay, Greenland, the team of searchers melted five 6 inch holes in the ice and lowered specially designed camera scopes into the holes.
At about thirty-eight feet below the surface of the ice in the second hole, the team observed black cables that are consistant with the wiring used on the J2F-4 Grumman Duck. After looking further, the team also found aircraft components similar to the ones used on that aircraft.
It was in November of 1942 that the Duck crashed during a rescue operation in Greenland. It was on November 9th of that year that a U.S. Army Air Force B-17 crashed during a search mission. It wasn’t until November 28th, that the Grumman Duck with her pilot Lt. John Pritchard, and radioman Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms, were able to pull off a ice cap landing to rescue two of the crew from the downed B-17.
The Duck and her crew of two would fly back the next day in an attempt to carry out further rescues. They landed once again and this time took aboard the B-17’s radioman, U.S. Army Air Force Cpl. Loren Howarth. After a successful take-off, the plane, her crew of two, and their charge, Cpl. Howarth headed back towards the Coast Guard Cutter Northland. But, unfortunately, while in transit, they encountered white-out conditions and the plane and her occupants crashed.
It wasn’t until a week later that the the wreckage of the aircraft was discovered by a U.S. Army air crew. When spotted, there were no signs of life at the crash site or in the immediate area.
As for the remaining crewmembers of the B-17, they were sustained with air drops until they could be rescued about six months later.
“Locating the J2F-4 Grumman Duck was a monumental success,” said Cmdr. Jim Blow, from the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Aviation Forces. “Collectively, the Coast Guard and NSP accomplished what the Coast Guard set out to achieve in 2008 when efforts began to locate the Duck.” “The three men aboard this aircraft were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” Blow added. “The story of the Grumman Duck reflects the history and the mission of the Coast Guard, and by finding the aircraft we have begun to repay our country’s debt to them.”
Written by: Staff on Jan 14, 2013.
Last revised by:
© 2013, ↑ Alaska Native News
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