Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II
Wil S. Hylton
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From a mesmerizing storyteller, the gripping search for a missing World War II crew, their bomber plane, and their legacy.
In the fall of 1944, a massive American bomber carrying eleven men vanished over the Pacific islands of Palau, leaving a trail of mysteries. According to mission reports from the Army Air Forces, the plane crashed in shallow water—but when investigators went to find it, the wreckage wasn’t there. Witnesses saw the crew parachute to safety, yet the airmen were never seen again. Some of their relatives whispered that they had returned to the United States in secret and lived in hiding. But they never explained why.
For sixty years, the U.S. government, the children of the missing airmen, and a maverick team of scientists and scuba divers searched the islands for clues. With every clue they found, the mystery only deepened.
Now, in a spellbinding narrative, Wil S. Hylton weaves together the true story of the missing men, their final mission, the families they left behind, and the real reason their disappearance remained shrouded in secrecy for so long. This is a story of love, loss, sacrifice, and faith—of the undying hope among the families of the missing, and the relentless determination of scientists, explorers, archaeologists, and deep-sea divers to solve one of the enduring mysteries of World War II.
grief therapy doesn’t work. They don’t have closure, and they never will.” Boss was also intrigued by the way MIA grief passed through families. Like Scannon, she noticed that in many cases, a daughter, son, or grandchild would become fixated on the loss of a man they had never known. By 1998, Boss and Hunter-King had documented so many MIA families in which the grief carried into a second or third generation, that they were invited to draft a new chapter for the clinical handbook of
multigenerational trauma, alongside entries on the effects of slavery, nuclear annihilation, and the Holocaust. “Unlike the Holocaust,” Hunter-King wrote in the manual, “mothers of MIA children were not suddenly uprooted from their homes and deprived of their possessions, countries, and cultures. They did not lose parents, siblings, and husbands to programmed incineration. They were not subjected to incarceration, underfed, and abused, as were Holocaust victims. . . . On the other hand, most
to find him, tracking Jimmie to an apartment complex where neighbors confirmed that he was alive. Now it was Scannon’s turn to stare in disbelief. Huddling together, he and Tommy tried to align the two stories, to see how they might fit together, how it all might make sense—but it didn’t make sense, none of it, and by the time they parted company, each was more confused than ever. As Scannon left the reunion and made his way to the islands, he realized that, once again, something in his
Scannon dove for Arnett, Belcher would be two miles away, digging for evidence of the mass grave. For weeks, Scannon spent his nights preparing. He packed and repacked his bags, ordered and reordered equipment, and by the time he boarded a flight from San Francisco International, with an apple pie from Susan tucked into his carry-on bag, his check-in luggage was stuffed with 120 pounds of photographic equipment, computer drives, and an endless array of scuba gear, and he’d mailed himself two
Is Headquarters of Chief Executive.” August 11, 1944. Faith, William Robert. Bob Hope: A Life in Comedy. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2003. First published 1982 by Putnam. Faram, Mark D. “The Best of the Best: Sailors of the Year.” Navy Times, October 10, 2001. Fast, Charles, ed. Havilook Yearbook. Haviland, OH: Haviland-Scott High School, 1943. Faust, Drew Gilpin. This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. Fausto-Sterling, Anne.