Operation Hunt for the Life of Riley: Lt. William G Weber
Mission # 1, the hunt in retrospect:
Pictured Above: The Western Union telegram dated April 11, 1945, addressed to Billy’s wife, Patricia, informing her of her husband’s MIA status.
Pictured Above: Group Chaplain Earl Raitt addresses Patricia, Billy’s wife, to inform her Billy has been declared missing in action.
As a seven-year-old, Ken understood the hurt his mother felt as she would reminisce on his memory and too often, cry while holding the only thing she had left of her youngest brother: a prized black and white photograph of Billy with a shy, boyish smile. It was then that Ken swore to his mother he would solve the mystery of what happened to his uncle. It turned out that this was not the boast of a naïve young boy, but rather, a sacred promise that would one day be fulfilled by a uniquely talented and unrelenting bold, family man. The “hunt” for Billy Weber gained traction when Ken was researching for an academic report at Georgetown, “The History of U.S. Economic Involvement in Southeast Asia.” He came across a photograph of a man wearing the same patch his mother pinned onto his t-shirt as a young boy, an extra that belonged to Uncle Billy. The caption of the photograph indicated that the man had flown during WWII in the CBI…the China Burma, India theater. Inspired by this revelation, Ken took to Maxwell Air Force Base to further his research on Billy, eventually finding the MACR, or Missing Air Crew Report, dated March 25, 1945 for The Life of Riley.
In the decades that followed, Ken uncovered additional reports, search and rescue missions for The Life of Riley, audio from both ground based and aerial radio contacts, maps, and perhaps most daunting of all: he interviewed hundreds of men who served in the Mariana Campaign, including two of Billy’s former crewmembers, the two men who were left behind on that fate-filled day.
Pictured Above: Crew #33, The Life of Riley photographed while still in the States. Top Row Left to Right: Lt. William G. Weber, Maj. Jack Riley, Lt. Jon Kelly, Cap. Walter Homer, Lt. Ralph Worthington. Bottom Row Left to Right: Cpl. Alfred English Jr., SSgt. William R. Bass, Cpl. Jim Dannaher, Pfc. James B. Doyle, SSgt. Carl Truelove, Cpl. George Ellis.
Through his research, he walked back the government’s five failed attempts to find The Life of Riley, reconnoitered and decoded three additional radio messages from Billy’s plane before they “vanished,” and interviewed former pilots to determine where on earth their B-29 could have ended up. By 1998, Ken came up with a timeline of what happened that day, and more importantly, a clearer idea of what the actual mission of The Life of Riley really was that late afternoon of March 24th, 1945.
It was only four years earlier when Ken was met with near death after being catapulted across eight lanes of traffic when his car was rear-ended by a delivery van traveling in excess of 75 miles per hour in 1994. For four years, Ken rehabilitated himself through yard work and gardening in the Arizona heat at his Scottsdale home, for mere moments at first, to entire eight-hour days in the unforgiving heat. His injuries included a massive cranial hematoma with 11 puncture wounds to the brain that left him without hearing or vision for six months and with diminished motor skills for nearly twelve months. Over the next few years, Ken underwent eight major surgeries to reconstruct his neck, lower back, knees, shoulder, and pelvis. The mental injuries were just as debilitating as the physical ones. The injuries to his brain left him with severe claustrophobia and panic attacks. Ken recalls, “As I felt stronger physically, I began to consider my future. I wanted to expand my perception of life, push the limits of my physical ability, and ultimately give back to my mom something for all the love and support she’d given me. Moreover, I wanted to be true to my vow. I had no idea where that desire would lead.” (See: the book section’s, Prosperity Magazine, “Ken Moore’s Passion: Searching the South Pacific for Lost Heroes.”)
By June of 1998, Ken was on a “26- hour flight” to Saipan, joined by Emet Suares, assistant to the congressional representative for the Mariana Islands ( The flight was 22 hours direct, with four additional hours, the result of being detained in Guam by machine-gun bearing DEA Agents looking for two German drug smugglers. Boarding the next available aircraft it had engine problems and was forced to turn back to Guam). Their final destination was Tinian Island, North Field Runway Alpha, where Ken determined after decades of research, his uncle’s B-29 very heavy long-range bomber, “The Life of Riley” last took flight in March of 1945. Emet, being one of Ken’s most important allies, vowed to help him throughout the duration of the trip. He would guide him through the backroads of the islands and lead him through the thick jungle.
Once the pair deplaned in Saipan, they were met with Glen Palacios, dive master, and Ben Santos, a local public defender. Next, they were joined by Glen’s brother Jesse, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas. Following Jesse’s arrival was that of Ben’s stenographer, Anna.
Ken, Emet, Glen, Jesse, Ben, and Ben’s assistant crammed into a tiny, overly-used, Mitsubishi sedan and made their way into the neighborhoods Emet would frequent as a child. Emet was instilled with a sense of mission, going door to door to friends and family who might have any information regarding the missing B-29. As they spoke to the countless islanders, one man’s name kept coming up, “Vicente Santos.” According to those Ken spoke to, he was a former teacher turned fisherman and a “purveyor of insight into things beyond this world.” Although Ken was reluctant to accept anything but hard evidence, still he had learned long ago that even the most outlandish of myths have at their base, a kernel of truth.
A Purveyor of Insight Into Things Beyond This World
As they approached Vicente’s shack, it was quite clear that the village elder lived a humble life with very little to his name. Even so, he was insistent on feeding his guests and offering them beer to drink. As cordialities exchanged in two different languages finally passed, Vicente sat everyone down. Glen and Emet acted as translators. As the interview was being recorded, Ben Santos informed their host who Ken was and why he was there. With that the previously slow moving Vincente Santos became instantly animated. As it was later determined, it was the thought of being able to finally tell the story of what he saw all those years ago living on Alamagon island as a young boy with a handful of elders, that sprang the lean and weather-beaten, sixty-seven year old, to life.
At first Ken was impatient. The old man’s dancing and prancing, walking back and forth talking rapidly in a language laced with colloquialisms that took both Glen and Emet a few moments to decipher, was near mind-numbing to the man who just got off of a prolonged flight from Western civilization. But as translations flowed, the village elder gained Ken’s attention as he recounted the events during the Easter season of ‘45 when the then 14-year-old heard an ear-splitting sound and saw a “giant silver bird” with four churning propellers plummet into a sheltered, Pacific Ocean cove off Alamagon island. Vincente Santos, a man so far removed from thoughts of historical events that shaped the modern world, then said something that shook Ken to his core. The old seafarer offered a piece of obscure evidence that had taken Ken an astute researcher, more than 20 years of scouring first generation documentation to discover…something that only someone who had undergone the same investigatory exercise or actually saw Uncle Billy’s plane, “The Life of Riley” go down. Vincente said ...
(The novel, “The Hunt For The Life Of Riley” is nearing completion. It will be available for publication, summer of 2019)
Pictured Above: A map of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Much of Ken, Glen, and Emet’s time in 1998, was spent on Saipan and Tinian and in the waters surrounding each. The goal was to head north, making it to at least Alamagan island, one of three distant isles that corresponded to Ken’s timeline on which The Life Of Riley may possibly, be found. The distance alone was a barrier. There were no aircraft in the Mariana Isles capable of making the 422 mile, round-trip even to Alamagon. On the off chance one could be found, a bush pilot would have been hard pressed to locate a strip of land to use as a make-shift runway on that long-abandoned, lush tropical atoll. Ancestral canoes along with a native crew schooled in the ancient ways of navigating by the stars, were offered. Ken kindly said, “No thanks.” A full size, ocean-going vessel was the only feasible option. Governor Tenorio graciously offered Ken the EMO’s (the Emergency Management Office’s) 112 foot, former US Coast Guard cutter aptly named “The Challenger.” It was that and more. Always under extreme budgetary restrictions, Governor Tenorio did not know that the engines in the government’s handsome duel decker had seized. Parts had to be flown in from Germany. Ken’s ever-supportive wife Pattat home in Scottsdale, offered to make the financial arrangements. Months would go by before “The Challenger” would be sea worthy.
In The Meantime…
Rather than sit around and remain frustrated that he couldn’t get to where he wanted to go, Ken opted to follow a saying hammered into his psyche by his father from a young age, “Finish what you start, son. Geez Dad, I’m trying to, okay?”
With that, Ken dup deep into his body of research then set out walking in the footsteps of his uncle Billy and the rest of the American servicemen who were stationed on Saipan and Tinian. Ken went wherever America’s armed forces went from 1944-1945. This was what he had spent the last four years building himself up to, tirelessly working toward recovery. Ken was fully rehabilitated, healthier now than he had been when he was straight out of college.
There was no doubt that Billy’s last duty station was on Runway Alpha, North Field, Tinian Island. After a short three-mile boat ride from Saipan to Tinian, Ken soon found himself walking virtually every square inch of what was once -- before Chicago’s O’Hare -- the largest airport in the world, North Field, Tinian Island.
Ken wanted to get a sense of where Billy ate, slept and trained. Additionally, Ken wanted to retrace the footsteps of as many of the men he had previously interviewed who served as part of the taking of Saipan and Tinian. Each piece of Ken’s extraordinary volume of research was validated by local historian Don Farrell. Ken’s goal was to keep every expedition as accurate and authentic as possible. At first, this was a lighthearted reenactment of history, but it soon took unique importance among all of the men involved.
Pictured Above: Imperial Navy’s First Air Fleet command headquarters on Tinian. Glen, Emet,and Ken flew into Tinian from Saipan using a rented Bell helicopter. The wide strip of the runway was American built. Pictured is runway number two of the 20th Air Force’s North Field. The original Japanese airstrip called “Ushi Field” was initially adjacent to the headquarters building, but paved over by US Navy Seabees, the 107th US Naval Construction Battalion.
Pictured Above: An extremely rare, color photograph of Ushi Field in December ’44, after the headquarter building was bombed and the construction by the Seabees was underway.
Pictured Above: The two-story building pictured was the World War II headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s First Air Fleet commanded by Admiral Kakuji Kakuta before the US battleships New Jersey, South Dakota, and others in Task Group 58 under Admiral Mitscher bombarded it in July of ’44.
“When you walk a battlefield that few, if any, have walked before, whether you’re a historian or not, you can’t deny a certain connection with something still very much alive, yet beyond anything you can see and touch. Less eerie than exhilarating, you know you’re connected as if an on-site observer, to an intricate part of a far greater whole. The guys with me were grateful for yet another distinction between ourselves and those whose 1944 “shoes” we were trying to fill….nobody was shooting at us.”
Pictured Above: Ken and Glen scuba-diving on Saipan.
Saipan’s Western Red Beach
On Saipan’s western Red Beach in 1944, frogman Fred Parkinson swam onto the beach by taking a deep breath, diving off the side of his boat and swimming through the coral reef. He dodged enemy fire and headed to shore wearing nothing more than light clothing and tennis shoes. When he reported back to his superiors, pointing out the safest route through the reef, the Second Marine Division followed. Ken and his men swam those same coral reefs and even though they were equipped with state-of-the-art diving gear and safety equipment, the rip tides, sharks and unforgivable currents made them swim for their lives.
Pictured Below: A pre-war, Japanese jail on Saipan.
Forbidden Beach And Susupe Swamp
On “Forbidden Beach,” the men who would soon be dubbed, “Moore’s Marauders” by the inept director of the local historical society, climbed the same 900-foot canyon wall that a platoon from the Marine’s Fourth Division did fifty-four years earlier in a surprise attack on a Japanese machine gun nest. Ken and his men hiked Death Valley and the Purple Heart Ridge, where the Army’s 27th Division from a National Guard unit based in New York was led into a barrage of enemy crossfire. After, Moore led his men into the Susupe Swamp to locate an underwater hangar for a World War Two, Imperial Japanese, Kawanishi flying boat. Enveloped in the stench-riddled, inky darkness of the tropical night, there they laid on a speck of dry earth in the exact spot where Bill Carr, a Marine Corps Corporal, had laid before losing his leg to a sniper round. Ken recalls:
“In 1941, at the outbreak of World War Two Bill Carr, a young man who then had a football scholarship to his state university in his hip pocket, visited me in 1996 at my home in Scottsdale as part of a research effort I had underway, two years before I ventured off to Saipan. In the ‘40’s, given his physical appearance, Bill was assigned the heavy BAR, automatic rifle to carry into combat. Given Bill’s physical appearance as he crossed my threshold fifty-one years later, I understood why. There was virtually no body fat on the man. Animated and no doubt grateful to have lived through his combat years, Bill Carr and I became fast friends. Upon his passing, his daughter and I remained close for several years. To know the man, to have studied his character and recognized his fears and then lie at the exact spot where his life was irrevocably changed is as close to stepping through the space-time-continuum that any mere mortal today can experience. “
Mt. Tapochau Part 1
The wartime hike up Saipan’s Mt. Tapochau was a particularly threatening undertaking. In 1944, Lt. Walter E. Rimmer and two dozen of his men climbed the perilous cliff, extending 1,500 feet upward. The last fifty feet to the summit were climbed on their stomachs. Having captured the Japanese stronghold by surprise, they saved the lives of three battalions of Marines at the base of the mountain from enemy fire.
In 1998, Emet had found a way into the volcano, avoiding more than a third of its sheer eastern side. What Ken, Glen and Emit were using as a path was thick with overgrowth, dark and foreboding. The men continued traveling first up then down some 400 yards into the volcano. With every few steps, the surrounding jungle appeared to close in on the men, becoming further entangled in the walls of slippery leaves. The thick, blanket of humidity was nearly suffocating as they were trying to catch their breath after exerting such physical force.
Pictured Below: Ken in 1998 in the jungles of Saipan
Ken’s main concern was avoiding something he just recently came into contact with, razor grass. It appears as if it were any other type of jungle grass, but one soon finds out otherwise once they pass through it. The blades have a red trim to it. That feature isn’t naturally occurring, either. The red trim is blood from the slivers of flesh it catches onto from ears, faces, necks, and arms that were neglected to be covered by durable clothing. He begins to think of the other things he’d encountered in the jungle and what our Marines must have thought when they first encountered the same type of creatures. Unlike Ken, they weren’t warned about the flying termites that form a black mass “cyclone,” conjuring up images of Revelation’s tormenting locusts. They weren’t expecting giant black coconut crabs, whose legs can span up to three feet and nearly weigh as much as a medium-sized dog. They didn’t expect the temperamental wild pigs, lurking from under the darkness of the tangled vines.
Pictured Above: The dense jungle of Saipan
While on Tinian, Moore’s crew located the island’s B-29 jungle graveyard and the underwater B-29 graveyard, the latter of which they all dove straight into. At full speed in a rented Mitsubishi, the team races down the coral crushed Runway Alpha, simulating Billy’s last takeoff. Finally, Ken felt as if he was closer than ever to his beloved uncle. They explored the underground bunkers and caves the Japanese had used as hideouts before the U.S. Military found them. One area of the long-abandoned bunkers was fenced off with a sign reading “Unexploded Ordinance, DO NOT ENTER.” Although Ken was cautious, Glen had a way of pushing him to his limits. He talked Ken into scaling the fence and exploring an area that could very likely explode at any moment. Buried into the ground along with grenades and other explosives were porcelain china, teacups, and Korean branded jars. All throughout Tinian’s bunkers and caves, the team found napalm-altered glass bottles, old Japanese military equipment, and pieces of American aircraft.
Pictured Above: Japanese soldiers pulled the pins on hand grenades much like this one. These were found along the crashed B-29 site, indicating that these were thrown into the downed American bomber. This particular grenade still has its pin in, either because it was no longer needed or unwittingly dropped amidst the chaos and confusion.
Pictured Above: Ken standing outside Lori Lynn’s hotel, bar, and restaurant located on Tinian island.
Pictured Above: A cache of items found in a cave on Tinian used to hide wounded Japanese soldiers. Note the U.S. Navy water pitcher. It’s presence at this locale is but one of a million such stories left untold in the Mariana Islands, alone.
The Return To Mt. Tapochau
Ken rallies his “Marauders” to another run-up Mt. Tapochau. This time, they had a plan to search deeper inside the inactive volcano.
Pictured Above: On Tinian Island, the Mariana archipelago. Ken is pictured on a Bell Helicopter, four-seater. On one of the trips to Mt. Tapochau, Ken and his men repelled down onto the mountain from the top. Along the way, Ken had the idea of simply taking the helicopter to Alamagon instead of waiting for the Challenger to be operable. It was a thought that quickly passed as he realized that extra gas cans together with compressed air (divers tanks) on board any aerial platform was a stunningly bad idea and against virtually every air safety regulation on the planet.
Ken reflects on his time, pushing the envelope in one of the world’s most challenging terrains: “The journey is its own reward. There is something deep within the human psyche that from birth, continually challenges each of us to reach a bit further than our eyes can see -- to find out for ourselves what lies at the end of that darkened alleyway. It is an innate measuring stick with a cattle prod at one end, ever testing and taunting us, standing ready to take our true measure at a moment’s notice, particularly when one of those real-life survival moments is staring one in the face. How far will my body go? What are the furthest reaches that my mind will allow me to take?”
Glen calls Ken over to what he believes to be an uprooted tree, something he could stand upon to separate the jungle canopy to verify the sun’s position and thereby, the time of day. Due to the heat and humidity, a watch is completely useless and the best way to get disoriented in a jungle volcano brimming with iron ore, is to rely on a campus. At this point, Glen was a mere 10 yards away from a life-taking gorge inside the mouth of Mt. Tapochau. Ken approaches what looks like the uprooted trunk of one of the largest trees he had ever seen. It was as thick as the largest Redwoods and some 40 feet long. As the pair stare at the “tree trunk,” they begin to make out the image of something unexpected, causing the two to burst into cheers as Emet runs over. The men began hacking away 50 years of jungle growth with their machetes: They happened across a crash site of a nearly intact, B-29.
Uncovered below rests a Curtis Wright R-3350-23 engine. Ken, Glen, and Emet began searching for the engine’s serial number. After about twenty minutes or so, he had spotted a mound of earth that could only be the left wing, intact. The remnants of the B-29 they had found was determined to have flipped onto its back during the crash and partially bury itself into the ground upon impact. The right wing had fallen down the gorge some years before, still visible yet buried under mounds of earth and 50 years of jungle growth. Wires and rubber were completely intact. The uncovering of the right side would require an entire team of excavation personnel with the appropriate equipment. The story of this war bird and its demise shortly upon arrival from Stateside in December of 1944,
is a tale of treachery and deceit unparalleled in the annals of American military history.
Pictured Below: These photos depict the first Marauder mission taking place inside of Saipan’s 1,500 foot, Mount Tapochau at approximately 900 feet. Ken had no idea there was jungle goo on his body nor did Glen tell him. When the temperature is well over 100 degrees and the humidity is a step or two behind, “jungle goo” provides cooling comfort, not unlike a cold compress. However, if you do not remove it within a few minutes, a burning sensation takes the place of the once cooling slime. Photographed by Glenn Palacios.
Although this B-29 didn’t belong to his uncle Billy, the discovery was instrumental in their preparation for what was to come: diving off the Western shore of Alamagon island to determine if the story described by Vicente Santos was, in fact, The Life of Riley’s resting place.
Pictured Above: Wreckage from the discovered B-29 site on Mt. Tapochau. Pictured is the B-29’s second engine.
Pictured Above: Kenneth Moore and Glen Palacios, known lovingly as “the first Marauder.” Ken reflects on his friendship with Glen, “I have only a handful of people I call a friend. Glen Palacios is a fixture in this select circle. I know Glen is my friend because following a night of excessive libations, we went scuba diving together the next morning off the coast of Saipan. At which time I learned the hard way not to drink and dive. While I tried to shoot to the ocean's top from a depth of 80 feet, the result of nitrogen fixation, Glen held me down. Had he not, my lungs would have exploded and I would not be writing this message today. Glen was the first Team Leader in the organization I headed known as Moore's Marauders. He and I walked side by side through many a demanding challenge. Along with hundreds of others who would soon join us, Glen and I lived together on the edge, soaking up every hair-raising moment. Of my select circle, this is the only guy who can convert me back to the dumb 20-something kid I once was just by showing up. Love ya, dude!”
The photographs below are taken from the Mt. Tapochau site of the B-29 crash discovered by Ken, Glen, and Emet.
Pictured Above: Glen is pictured with the wreckage of the discovered B-29 crash site on Mt. Tapochau. He was tasked with locating the serial numbers on site. This would prove helpful next year, when the men dove for Ken’s Uncle Billy’s B-29 in Alamagon island’s lagoon.
Pictured Above: Japanese beer bottles from the era, long abandoned, but the jungle has a way of preserving items. These were found around the B-29 crash site on Mt. Tapochau.
Pictured Above: The wheels of the discovered B-29 on Mt. Tapochau locked down for landing. Tapochau’s calderas plain is a wandering flat valley with sudden and steep drop-offs. Whoever this pilot was, he had nerves of steel and utter confidence in his flying abilities. He held onto his rudder with all his might, putting his badly wounded aircraft down on the nearest flat surface, only to perish along with his crew at the hands of the enemy as his aircraft came to a halt.
Pictured Above: Ken clearing jungle debris. Ken found this particular sight due to the bright yellow tip.
Pictured Above: Glen with the propeller from engine number one.
Pictured Above: Metal leg from Mt. Tapochau’s B-29 front landing gear. The wheels and tires broke off but with within inches.
Pictured Above: The men returned to Mt. Tapochau on the 4th day, still refusing to use a compass. When they got there, the first thing Ken did was crawl into the B-29’s fuselage. A portion of the side aircraft had been blown out. It was just wide enough to squeeze in. I crawled in on my back and entered into what was the crew’s sleeping quarters.
Pictured Above: Here’s the inside of the fuselage on the interior wall of the B-29 discovered. The wiring and electric motor look like they just came off the Boeing assembly line in Wichita, Kansas.
Pictured Above: The crew was unable to identify the metal fragment found, but there was no denying its manufacturer.
Pictured Above: More shots of the artifacts found. It was apparent that the Japanese used this as their encampment for some time.
Pictured Above: Unexploded ordinances were everywhere along the sites ventured in by Ken, Glen, and Emet.
Pictured Above: A clothing iron used to press a Kempeitai, officer’s uniform. Note the carved cover over the water entry. It is a depiction of the Japanese war god Jimmu. Clearly, this belonged not only to an officer but one with great wealth to afford such extravagant gifts. It became clear that the Japanese here took semi-permanent residence and were here for a considerable amount of time before, and perhaps after, the B-29 crash landing.
Pictured Above: The iron referenced in the previous photo.
Operation Ms. Lu: Lt. Ernest Garner Jr.
Operation Ms. Lu, Lt. Ernest Garner Jr., The Search for the P-51 Pilot
Moore’s Marauders were contacted by a surviving member of Lt. Ernest Garner’s family:
2nd Lt. Ernest W. Garner, Jr. was my uncle. He was my dad’s oldest brother. My dad is about to be 80 and he is the last surviving sibling in his family. He was 15 when Ernest did not return from a bombing and strafing mission on 4/14/1945 in China. Our family never knew what happened to him for over 60 years.
Ernest attacked a group of soldiers on the way back to Xian and for some reason did not pull out of a dive. As his P-51 skipped along the ground, his prop hit a Chinese woman, a Ms. Lu. Her ten-year-old son was a witness to the crash and many knew the approximate location of Ernest Garner’s grave.
I have been in contact with JPAC and submitted DNA, etc. They say they will bring his case up to the Chinese in the future, but every time I contact them they say maybe next year. Can you help?
Pictured Above: Ernest Garner is pictured with his family outside of their Daytona Beach cottage in the early ’40s before the war broke out. From left to right: Jim Garner, Margaret Garner, Lela Garner, Everett Garner (front), Emily Garner, Ernest Garner. Allen’s father, Everett “Don” Garner is in the center.
The Garner family, like far too many others, were left without the closure they needed after their beloved son and brother never returned home from the most devastating war of the 20th century.
Allen’s letter was a testament to the reputation that Moore’s Marauders had made for themselves. They were who people went to when they wanted tangible results.
Ernest Garner, Background
In a letter dated December 7th, 2010 sent to Marauder team members Tom and Rita Arkle, Garner’s youngest brother lovingly describes the memories he has of his older brother, Ernest,
Ernest was an outstanding student in high school and college. He played the trumpet for many school functions and several military funerals. He loved to play baseball. As a teenager, he was involved in many activities. He worked on Saturdays at a local grocery store. I remember his excitement about buying his first gun with part of the money he earned. He enjoyed outdoor activities such as hunting quail and doves while growing up. Ernest was faithful in attending Sunday school and church.
Ernest graduated from high school with a 99 average. He attended Georgia Tech when he and his class were called to the service of their country during the last quarter of their senior year. At this time, Ernest joined the Army Air Force. Our father died one year after Ernest joined the Air Force. Our mother lived to be 86 years of age. She never stopped hoping for her beloved son’s return since that spring day in 1945 when she was notified of his being missing in action. I remember her sitting in our front porch swing longing for her son’s return. Our family received very little information from the military concerning what had happened to him until after World War II had ended.
Again, I want to thank you and Rita for your genuine concern and support for MIA’s and Moore’s Marauders. You have brought new hope and possible closure for our family.
Everett Allen Garner
Second Lieutenant Ernest W. Garner, Service Number 0-824462, entered military service from Georgia in November of 1942. During World War Two, he served in the China Burma India Theater as a pilot for a P-51 (Serial number #42-103909) with the 528th Fighter Squadron, 311th, Fighter Group. Garner was lost on April 14, 1945, during a combat mission near Taiyuan, Shanxi, China. Ultimately, Second Lieutenant Garner was awarded a Purple Heart for his sacrifice and is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.
Pictured Above: Lt. Ernest Garner Jr. is pictured in his official U.S. Army Air Corps uniform.
On April 14, 1945, Lt. Garner participated in a bombardment and strafing mission around Taiku (Taiyuan), China, damaging an enemy train of supplies. Garner’s P-51 was last seen in the clouds approximately 5 miles south of Taiku, joining another aircraft in his squadron. Commanding Officer of the 528th Squadron, Major Robert A. Clendenin reported that Garner failed to join the rest of his squadron. Shortly after his momentary disappearance, a crashed and burning aircraft was observed around the Yuncheng, Shanxi Province 155 miles from where Garner was last seen.
Through their research, the Marauders found that Lt. Garner broke his Model “D” P-51 fighter out of formation against orders having spotted a band of Imperial Japanese Kempei Tai about to attack a group of Chinese villagers who had gathered in the square to celebrate a yearly festival. Knowing he too would likely perish in the process, Garner throttled back, dropped down to ground level and simultaneously fired each of his aircraft’s, six, 50 caliber machine guns into the scheming Jap invaders, saving an entire village of innocent citizens.
Chinese authorities reported that the aircraft observed burning near Yuncheng , near the North Gate of the city. The pilot was dead. The aircraft’s wreckage was removed by the Japanese and the body of the pilot was buried at a place beside the granary outside the North Gate. According to Garner’s Individual Deceased Personnel File (IDPF), the body was exhumed, placed in a coffin, and reburied in a grave marked by the Magistrate Office with a wooden tablet at West Yu village outside of the North Gate of Yuncheng city. The American Graves Registration Service, the organization charged with the recovery and identification of fallen U.S. service personnel during and after WWII, determined that the body referenced by the Chinese authorities likely belonged to Lt. Garner as he was the only P-51 pilot that was lost on April 14, 1945, near Yuncheng and remained unaccounted for.
At the war’s conclusion, the American Graves Registration Service was prohibited from investigating the site due to China’s post-war political atmosphere. In April of 1956, Garner’s remains were declared to be unrecoverable. In May of 2009, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) reviewed Garner’s case and determined it was ready for field activity.
On The Ground, 2008
Beginning in 2008, the next two years were filled with what Moore’s Marauders did best: on the ground research. Ryan Bach, Senior Team Leader for Moore’s Marauders, explains the relationships they had with the Chinese families they worked with, “The Marauders are Purveyors of Closure. We provide the linkage between the American and Chinese family. When the Marauders show up on the doorstep of a Chinese family, we have evidence in hand that we are working strictly on behalf of an American family. With that, doors swing wide open. Talk of one potential MIA find resonates from one township to another. The Marauders are seen throughout the People’s Republic of China as goodwill ambassadors—secular and apolitical. ”
In the couple of weeks leading up to their trip, the team carried out extensive correspondence and telephone communication with newspaper reporters in Yuncheng city, Shanxi province to request assistance in publicizing the search for Lt. Garner, seeking leads from the public, and later accepting promising leads and summaries of a few oral accounts. Mr. Zhang Hongzhan from the Yellow River Morning Post worked through various leads and gained an overview of the crash events before the Marauders’ arrival. Additionally, he helped make arrangements for the visit, including introductions to the local government.
The Marauders arrived in Yuncheng on April 13, 2008, after an overnight train ride from Beijing following their flight. The team was escorted to their lodging and visited by several officials, including the director of the Foreign Affairs Office. The team was then escorted by supportive government officials to Yuhsiang. The team briefly visited Mat’Sun where they met with and videotaped several eyewitnesses, including the son and brother-in-law of the women, Ms. Lu, struck and killed when Lt. Garner’s P-51 fighter plane crashed. Next, the Marauders moved on to Yuxiang township, just a couple kilometers from the crash site, to see the initial burial site of Lt. Garner, and then the location of the second burial, now a site to small factories and other structures.
Pictured Above: Pictured are two of the three eyewitnesses interviewed by the Marauders, Ms. Lu’s son, Cai Yutang (right) and Ms. Lu’s brother-in-law, Cai Jingxiu (left)
Only two living elders had actually seen the second burial site, and with all the structures built over the years, plus the 63 intervening years, they couldn’t be definitive on the burial location despite their sincere effort. Later that day, the team and some of the elderly eyewitnesses were hosted for dinner by the local government officials. On the morning of April 14th, exactly 63 years after the crash, the Marauders arranged for a bouquet of flowers and a photograph of Lt. Garner to be placed in the courtyard of one of the factories where the Marauders believed to be within a 50-meter radius of Garner’s final resting place.
After the small memorial, the team arranged for other elders who might have any information to meet them on site. These included workers who had helped build the first factory in the once open field where it was thought that Garner’s final resting place lay. Additionally, the Marauders contacted many leads by phone. Although they all knew the general story, nobody came up with any specifics. From eyewitness testimonies thus far, the following was gathered:
On the day of the crash, a group of villagers was walking from Macun to an adjacent village to celebrate a yearly festival when Garner’s plane was witnessed crashing, digging several shallow long “skipping” slashes into the soil. While the plane was skipping, a villager by the name of Ms. Lu was hit, the people in front of her and behind her were spared. She was around 36 years old. The airplane came to a rest and started emitting a column of heavy black smoke. A witness who ran to the site not too many minutes later ran into an exultant puppet soldier carrying an opened, bright white parachute away from the site. The witness arrived closer to the crash site to see the pilot laying on the ground, dead, but without any apparent injuries. It wasn’t clear if his body was removed from the cockpit, or if he had been ejected from the craft. Sometime shortly after the crash, two planes flew in from the west and circled high around the column of smoke briefly before turning back west.
Eventually, puppet troops came and moved the aircraft, as well as the pilot’s body, to a puppet government office/courtyard in Yuxiang for a time. The locals observed both there, and then noticed he had a broken thigh bone.
After the war, Chinese government officials exhumed the body, wanting to place this ally and hero in a more respectful and auspicious location. They moved him south across the street to a quiet, empty field further from the road. He was buried there in a wooden coffin with full traditional coverings and quilts at the locally traditional depth of two meters. A mound of soil was raised above the grave and a wooden plaque was erected. After years, the site was unattended, and by the time a factory was built in the field in 1958, there was no impression of a burial site in the vicinity.
After this trip, the Marauders are confident that the recollections from the villagers of the crash is the exact same crash as Lt. Garner’s. According to both American and Chinese documentation, this was the only crash to have happened and remained unaccounted for in this exact area in April of 1945. Further, villagers, without knowing the exact date of Garner’s crash, reported the crash they witnessed happening on April 14th, 1945, having remembered due to Ms. Lu’s death.
Although there were no definite answers to the exact location of Lt. Garner’s final burial site, the eyewitness testimonies have narrowed down the search. Further, witnesses repeatedly insisted that Lt. Garner’s grave was off by itself, with no known Chinese graves along with Garner. Thus, it is fairly likely that any bones found in the area narrowed down would belong to Lt. Ernest Garner.
The Return to Yuncheng, 2010, Moore’s Marauders Recon Team #44
Accepting the assignment for a return to Yuncheng was Marauder Team Leader #17 Bradley Hartsell and Marauder Zhang Ji in what Ken refers to as “one of the most successful MIA reconnaissance missions in Marauder history: Operation Ms. Lu.”
In June 2010, Marauder Team Leader Bradley Hartsell and Marauder team member Zhang Ji went to Yuncheng . On June 11th, Hartsell and Ji meet with Zhang Jian Zheng, the Chief Administrator at the Yuxiang Township Government Administration Offices. The Marauders provided him with a Statement of Purpose for a case that the administrator was already well aware of given the newspaper articles written about it. Zhang Jian Zheng said that he would provide whatever support they needed from him or the government office. Before long, another eyewitness, Xie San Cun, was located by a local reporter and would be waiting at the old stamping factory for the Marauders. The men were escorted by a security guard through an old stamping factory, long abandoned, as a possible resting place for Lt. Garner’s remains.
At the stamping factory, they were met with Cai Jingxiu, Ms. Lu’s brother-in-law and Xie San Cun, both eyewitnesses to the crash of spring ’45, and a man by the name of Zhang Guang Fa. Mr. Xie empathetically stated that Lt. Garner’s remains were not located in the old stamping factory courtyard, as he remembers the second burial being closer to the intersection of Yang Ji- Yuncheng Road and Train Station Road. He stated that he had lived his entire life in Yuxiang, living as an orphan on the streets when he saw people move Lt. Garner’s body. He followed them for the first burial. Being a curious child on the streets without anyone telling him where to be, he followed as the second burial took place after the war’s conclusion. He said they moved the body approximately 100-150 meters along the angle of the footpath that ran from the northwest corner of the moat and the path that led to the train station. This contradicted Cai Jingxiu’s recollection but verified Hartsell’s doubts of Garner being at the stamping factory’s courtyard.
Upon following Mr. Xie’s lead, the Marauders were led to a granary compound that was behind the storefronts along Yang Ji-Yuncheng road where Mr. Xie recalls the second burial taking place. In order to access the approximate location Mr. Xie points out, the men must venture through a welding shop.
While in the granary compound, Hartsell notices another courtyard to explore, accessible by entering through a welding shop. As they entered, they began exploring. Soon, a lady, Ms. Liu Chun Mei, came out startled and demanded to know who the Marauders were. When they told her their mission and what Moore’s Marauders were all about, she quickly calmed. She casually remarked that her and her husband, Zhang Guo Liang, found a skeleton while they were digging the foundation for their home. She couldn’t remember exactly where they reburied it but gave an approximate location where her husband’s welding shop now sits. Mr. Zhang and Ms. Liu welcomed the Marauders into their home. Hartsell gave them a copy of their Statement of Purpose and Moore’s Marauders business cards, along with copies of the newspaper articles written about their mission to find the remains of Lt. Garner.
Mr. Zhang repeatedly expressed his support, and with advance notice, he would clear the corner of his shop for the Marauders. At the very suggestion that the Marauders compensate for the damages to the property as a result from exhuming Lt. Garner’s remains, he was nearly offended. He wanted to help the Marauders in any way he could---and refused any compensation.
Pictured Above: Chinese citizen Zhang Gou Liang (left) describes the day he found P-51 pilot, Lt. Ernest Garner Jr. They were under the floor of the house on which Zhang Guo Liang, Zhang Ji (center) and Bradley Hartsell (right) are seated upon in the photo above.
Pictured Above: From left to right: Chinese citizen Zhang Guo Liang, Marauder Team Leader Bradley Hartsell, Zhang Guo Liang’s wife, Liu Chun Mei, and Marauder Zhang Ji
Pictured Above Left to Right: Marauder Zhang Ji, Zhang Guo Liang, wife Liu Chun Mei, and Moore’s Marauders Team Leader Bradley Hartsell
Pictured Above: Lt. Garner’s gravesite to the left and behind the yellow sawhorse.
Pictured Above: Gravesite of Lt. Garner as indicated by Ms. Liu, under the drill press
Ken fondly reflects on the work done by his men,
“The exceptional diplomatic and investigatory skills of the Moore’s Marauders Team Leader Bradley Hartsell, along with Team Members Zhang Ji and Anthropologist/Archeologist Dr. Stan Copp, coupled with their “never back down” attitude may bring the Garner family in 2010, one of the most joyous Christmas gifts of their lives. I hope to be on site with Marauders Bradley, Ji, and Stan to share some portion of it. “
The Garner family is left with closure, and Ken is left with a letter of appreciation from Allen, both serve as a reminder of why Ken founded Moore’s Marauders in the first place:
I just wanted to extend my heartfelt thanks to you, Bradley, Zhang Ji, and all those involved with Operation Ms. Lu. This has been a lifelong dream for me since I was a young child listening to my grandmother tell me about her eldest son, Ernest. I lived only a few blocks away and I spent a lot of time reading the letters that Ernest sent home, and I saw the sadness in my grandmother’s eyes as she told me about my uncle that never came home from China.
Marauder Team Leader Bradley Hartsell’s “After Action Report” was absolutely awesome and incredibly detailed! My dad was very excited to learn what happened to the brother he lost when he was only 15. He followed every detail.
Thank you, Moore’s Marauders.
Pictured Above and Below: Allen Garner sent these photos to Ken the Marauders research, along with all relevant documentation regarding Lt. Garner’s time in the military. Lynch is photographed above in his official U.S. Army Air Corps uniform. Below, he is pictured in China aside his P-51.
Operation Stone Mountain: Lt. Earl Stone
Operation Stone Mountain: Lt. Earl Stone
One of the deadliest aerial engagements of World War II took place on February 9th, 1942 in the skies over Mt. Mariveles, along the southern region of the Bataan Peninsula. The aftermath of such aerial engagement became known to Moore’s Marauders as “Operation Stone Mountain” in the search for Lt. Earl Stone, the American who piloted the P-40 fighter in combat with an Imperial Japanese Ki-2, manned by Sgt. Toshisada Kurasawa.
Team Leader Ryan Bach had led this mission and spent four years attempting to locate the remains of Lt. Earl Stone, with many Marauders playing a significant role. Bach ultimately found the crash site of Lt. Earl Stone’s P-40, as well as the Ki-27 fighter flown by his Japanese counterpart, Sgt. Toshisada Kurasawa. Alongside Bach were Marauder Team Members Spike Nesymth, David Metherell, and photojournalist Kevin Hamdorf. Upon excavating Kurasawa’s crash site in 2008, several teeth and bones were discovered. Two members of Sgt. Kurasawa’s family insisted they join Bach to visit the crash site, flying out to the Philippines where Bach led them up the 7,000-foot mountain to pray for both Stone and Kurasawa. Ryan offered, “They wanted to pay their respects. They were expressing sincere remorse at the loss of both pilot’s lives, wanting to convey their condolences and respects to Lt. Stone’s surviving brother, Wescott Stone.”
A ceremony was held to hand over Kurasawa’s remains to the Japanese government. The remains of Kurasawa were flown back to the Japanese Ministry of Health and Labor for DNA analysis. Bach’s intelligence was correct and the Marauders delivered closure to yet another family, only this time, one that was once considered an enemy of the state.
Bach describes the experience: “It was an emotional experience, to say the least. I only hope that each Marauder has the opportunity to see firsthand what it means to a family missing a soldier when we say, ‘Here it is. Let’s take him home.’At the end of the day, each MIA represents a terrible episode in the life of a family. As Marauders, we change that last chapter of a soldier’s life from one of unknown sadness and loss, to one of answers and closure. It is no small task, it is something for which I am tremendously proud.”
Pictured Above: Sr. Marauder Team Leader Ryan Bach is pictured on Mt. Mariveles with two surviving family members of Sgt. Toshisada Kurasawa, Hisako Yokozawa (left) and her daughter, Kanae (center).
Pictured Above: Team Leader Ryan Bach executing Operation Stone Mountain at the crash site that he, Marauder Team Members Spike Nesymth, David Metherell, and photojournalist Kevin Hamdorf, first discovered.
Ken reflects on the Marauders bringing closure to a Japanese family,
“These two young women left behind something more. Their presence made a statement more enduring than monuments. If war is an inevitable part of the human experience then what value does its carnage bring? I contend that the value of war lies in the “rebirth of humanism,” often no more than a pebble in a pond, or a painstaking step-at-a-time up mountains of regret, ultimately for all, to be reminded of the preciousness of life.”
Operation China Gate: USMC SSgt. William Joseph Lynch
Operation China Gate: USMC SSgt. William Joseph Lynch
On April 14th, 2008, in the late morning hours, the head of Moore’s Marauders, Ken Moore, received a phone call. On the other end of the line was a man with a difficult to discern accent, asking Ken a question he couldn’t quite convey. Thinking the caller was a salesman on the verge of pitching a product, Ken said “No thank you” and hung up. The next day at the same time, approximately 2:00am in Shenyang, China, Yang Jing, Associate Professor of History from Shenyang University called again, clearly stated a simple request: He needed help finding a photograph of USMC SSgt. William Joseph Lynch, a man who was imprisoned in Mukden prison, a Japanese run facility located in Manchuria during World War II. Professor Yang Jing has been studying the Japanese occupation of Mukden Manchuria for years becoming the People’s Republic of China’s most recognized authority on the subject.
Focusing for years on a building that was an apartment complex for the under privileged in modern day China, he convinced his government that the building and its wide ranging campus, was actually the once infamous Mukden Prison of World War Two, ultimately having it set aside as an historical site. Of the 1,500 Allied prisoners sent to Mukden, only one was “left unaccounted for”, the one who escaped, SSgt. William Lynch. In 1946, Major S. M. Adams of the United States Marine Corps notified the Lynch family that SSgt. Lynch was dead and had been awarded a Purple Heart. As in the case of the missing B29 aircraft known as The Life of Riley and its crew, U.S government and military officials particularly in the immediate aftermath of war, rush to judgement, closing the books on those Missing In Action prematurely.
Pictured to the left: SSgt. William J. Lynch
All of Professor Yang Jing’s searches came up empty. The following month, Ken asked Team Leader Ryan Bach and Team Historian Stephen McCartney if they wanted to adopt the mission as their own. Both were undeniable in their acceptance. From beginning to its climactic end, Operation China Gate covered a period of seven years. Operation China Gate(that began as Operation Mukden) was one of the organization’s biggest challenges, but ultimately, its biggest triumph.
When Ken spoke with Professor Yang Jing during the second call, each recognized that they were kindred spirits. Amidst their numerous subsequent telephone conversations and e-mail correspondences, the professor revealed he had contacted an elderly man who worked in the prison hospital at Port Arthur, a four-hour train ride from Mukden. The man mentioned that he remembers only one Caucasian man coming through the prison in all his time there, adamant that the man was American. Professor Yang Jing thought that this American man could have been William Lynch. Yang Jing suspected that when the camp was liberated, Lynch was sent to Port Arthur due to an attempted escape. A search by the Russian Army and the American OSS (the predecessor to the CIA) turned up no sign of Lynch, his whereabouts never determined.
With a photograph of Lynch, he could show the elderly man who worked at the prison hospital in order to verify his hypothesis.
William Joseph Lynch was born March 24, 1919, in Boston, Massachusetts and was the son of Daniel Austin Lynch and Marie Gruber. William was named after his great-grandfather, William Lynch, an Irish immigrant who arrived in Boston in 1834 and who owned a grocery store in the North End of Boston. William Joseph Lynch grew up at 57 Victory Road in Dorchester, Massachusetts. As a teen, he attended Mechanical Arts High in Roxbury where he learned how to weld. He left school to enlist in the 26th Signal Company of the Massachusetts National Guard in 1935. The following year, he was honorably discharged. He joined the Marines in 1937 and was sent with the American Expeditionary Force to China.
Pictured Above: SSgt. William J. Lynch’s official military photo taken upon enlistment
A testament to Lynch’s desire to serve and protect, a letter written home for Christmas one year reads the following:
Have the best season ever- know that everything is fine with me in every way; I want for nothing. I have the love of each and all of you here with me, and you know that, always, my love and devotion are with you all. The very reason we’re all now here is to keep those wonderful American homes of ours just as they are- free, and totally ours. So there’s no place for worry or doubt- just a clean, strong faith in the future. And there’s most certainly a wonderful future ahead for us. I’ve got to close now mom-know that I’m thinking of all you swell people all the time, and that I love you all so very much. Let me know how things are going, and extend my best to all the family.
I love you all so much,
Staff Sergeant Billy “Bud” Lynch was stationed in Shanghai before the outbreak of the war. Their main duty in China was to guard the International Settlements or Concessions. By September of 1941, it was decided that the Asiatic Fleet should leave China to go to the Philippines. Lynch arrived in Manila on December 1st, 1941. He was first sent to Subic Bay where he remained until December 26th. Lynch was then transferred to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay to establish Beach Defense on the island. General Douglass McArthur ruled that Corregidor was a fortress, capable of defending itself, while Manila was declared an open city where the Japanese could parade unchallenged. The Japanese surrounded Corregidor Island and all of the Americans stationed there.
Four months of enemy bombing ensued. On April 9th, 1942, 75,000 American and Filipino soldiers surrendered to the Japanese, a mere two miles north of where William and his USMC comrades were positioned. So began the infamous Bataan Death March. For 27 days, Sergeant Lynch and his band of 14,000 others fought hand-to-hand against the Imperial army. On May 7th, General Jonathan Wainwright surrendered his forces on Corregidor to Lt. Gen. Masaharu Homma, making SSgt. Lynch and the rest of the American men he fought alongside with, prisoners of war.
Prisoner of War
On May 9th, 1942, Lynch and 14,000 others were crammed into an airplane hangar called “The 92nd Garage” on Corregidor where they were kept for sixteen days. They then were paraded through the streets of Manila by the Japanese in humiliation. Their march ended when they reached Bilibid, the old Manila prison. The next day, the men were marched to Manila Rail Road Station with approximately 90 men loaded onto each boxcar. Lynch spent the first four months of his life as a POW at Cabanatuan, the notoriously cruel Japanese prison camp in the Philippines.
The Japanese then announced in Cabanatuan that they were going to send a large number of men to Manchuria. They stated that they wanted healthy men with technical skills. At a time when the death rate at Cabanatuan was at its highest point, many of the men willingly volunteered, hoping that their luck would be better elsewhere. The men were promised that food would be more plentiful and that the living conditions would be improved from Cabanatuan. Lynch was among the first 2,000 that were sent on “Hell Ships” to Formosa to be dispatched as slave-laborers for the Imperial Japanese empire. They were aboard the “Tottori Maru” headed for Takao, Formosa. Before the war, the Tottori Maru was used to transport cattle in Asia, making for unsanitary conditions. Before they reached their destination, they were attacked by a US submarine which fired two torpedoes at the Tottori Maru, but the Japanese captain navigated the ship to dodge both. Packed shoulder to shoulder, starving, dehydrated, and laying in waste, many American POW’s died before they made it back to land, simply thrown overboard. Lynch was among the few that survived.
From Formosa, Lynch was sent to Pusan, Korea, met with a fire hose as he stood naked on the doc one frigid November afternoon. Lynch and the others were issued old Russian Army overcoats. Although Lynch was still in relatively good health, his resentment grew stronger each day. He attempted repeated escapes that resulted in torturous beatings. His life was spared only because he was seen as an asset to his captors due to his health, stamina and welding skills.
Soon, Lynch found himself on a train headed to China for Imperial Japan’s extensive Mukden prison. The men were not allowed to start fires in their barracks, struggling to keep warm by pulling their cots together and sleeping in a group. They were fed variations of soup—watery cabbage or ground blue corn. Many of the men arrived at the camp in bad condition, growing worse by the passing days. The American prisoners were given a vaccine for dysentery, but it didn’t appear to do any good. For the next three months, men died from dysentery at an accelerated rate.
At Mukden, Lynch was put to manufacturing replacement parts for Japanese combat aircrafts in the Manchukuo Kaisha Kai plant managed by Mitsubishi, inside the prison walls. It was said that American POW’s constantly sabotaged the operation---stealing tools, breaking molds, causing delays--- and enduring barbaric beatings because of it. Finally, the Japanese removed Lynch and the other Americans from their manufacturing operation and put them to work in a leather factory.
Dorchester’s William Lynch was unlike any other of the thousands of Americans that underwent years of hardship in Japanese labor camps. They were all in a constant state of fear, anger--- and unrivaled resentment--- with no relief of their emotions in site. That changed on May 20th, 1944.
The guards and prisoners were still recovering from an electrical storm from the previous night when Lynch, Mukden’s Prisoner #607, set aside his tools and quietly slipped away. He made his way toward a tiny portal in the latrine, crawling through to the main campus of the prison yard, and simply walked out. His destination? Vladivostok, Soviet Union, to seek asylum.
In his book, “Undaunted Valor” Sheldon Zimbler quotes from Robert Branch’s diary from May 19th, 1944:
“An electrical storm hit the camp. Lightning actually struck a guard tower about 50 yards from the barracks and totally demolished it. “
Before noon the next day, Lynch found himself in the city of Mukden, dressed in his Russian overcoat attempting to pose as a Soviet soldier seeking direction. Unfortunately for him, Lynch didn’t speak much Russian and Mukden was run by the Imperial Japanese Kempetai who didn’t fall for his disguise. When confronted, he attempted to flee, but not before being shot in the upper thigh, beaten within an inch of his life, and then returned to Mukden prison on a stretcher, left at the gate overnight. He was reportedly unrecognizable and unconscious. This was the last time Roy Weaver, Lynch’s cellmate ever saw him alive.
According to the Finding of Death report conducted by the U.S. Marine Corps, Japanese POW Camp officials indicated that they were told Lynch was tried in early June 1944 at Mukden by Judicial Branch of the Kwantung Army from Hsinking and sentenced to six or seven years in the Port Arthur prison. After that, he was never seen or heard from again. The Finding of Death report concludes, “Russian Army was asked by Processing Team to search for him in Dairen, Port Arthur, and Mukden, particularly in prisons, and later reported that a search had been made and Lynch could not be found.”
William’s mother tried to contact him in a letter addressed to Camp Hoten, Mukden, Manchukuo in April of 1945. The letter explained that William’s uncle George had been very ill and Mrs. Lynch had asked why he hadn’t written. The letter was too late, marked “return to sender.”
In every Japanese prison camp, it was custom to have ten of the fellow inmates of those who attempted to escape, randomly selected for execution. Three men had attempted to escape before Lynch, two Marines and one man from the Navy. As a result, thirty more men were executed at the hands of the Imperial military. The escapees were forced to watch the executions before they themselves were slain by rifle fire. Surviving members had their rations cut in half. Privileges, such as smoking, were taken away. Random beatings increased in their frequency and severity. Harsh interrogations followed. But as Roy Weaver reports, “There were no executions, no beatings, no reduction of privileges. Life in Mukden prison went on as if nothing had happened. “ Another remarkable aspect about Lynch’s escape and recapture was the lack of reaction by the Japanese guards in Mukden.
Pictured Above: An official declaration of SSgt. William J. Lynch’s death from the U.S. Marine Corps
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Roy Weaver was Mukden Prisoner #610, William Lynch was #607. Both #608 and #609 had perished, making Weaver and Lynch cellmates, and back-to-back in roll call each morning. Weaver reported that from May 20th, 1944, the day of Lynch’s escape, to September 2nd, 1945, the war’s end, a Japanese soldier would yell out “607!” during roll call each morning for Lynch.
Lynch’s escape and disappearance was indeed unprecedented, but further questions arise regarding his time at Mukden. Why wasn’t he killed on the spot? Why were there no repercussions to the other inmates after his escape? Why was a Japanese soldier calling his number during roll call? Additionally, it was found that the CIA’s predecessor, the OSS, parachuted onto Mukden to liberate the Allied prisoners, not the U.S. Military.
On June 26th of that year, Team Leader Ryan Bach was scheduled to be in Shanghai. There, Bach and Professor Yang Jing would meet face-to-face, and Bach would be able to share all the information they had compiled within a short time period, demonstrating the abilities of the Marauders. In a little more than a month’s time, the Marauders had to accumulate more research than anyone had in over 63 years.
Stephen McCartney briefed the team on the historical significance of Mukden and began reaching out to the Dorchester, Massachusetts community where Lynch was from. Dr. Phillip Parks helped McCartney in this venture. Although not a member of the Marauders, Bert Caloud of the American Battle Monuments Commission provided information on Mukden and put the Marauders in touch with Fred Baldissarre, arguably along with Ken, one of the most knowledgeable living Americans concerning the Pacific Theater during World War II. As it turns out, Professor Yang Jing had solicited his help a few years earlier and was familiar with William Lynch, his escape, recapture, and disappearance. With his expertise, he tracked down a living prisoner from Mukden, Roy Weaver, who was bunked next to Lynch while imprisoned.
Pictured Below: USMC Gunnery Sergeant Roy Weaver, Lynch’s bunkmate with now Marauder Advisor, Professor Yang Jing. They are photographed at the Mukden prison site in 2008.
On the Marauders end, they began pressing their extensive military contacts. Retired Colonel Jim Lucas put them in touch with Dr. Fred Allison with the Marine Corps History Division. He provided casualty cards for Lynch and directed the Marauders to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. If a photo of Lynch were to be anywhere, it would be there. Several Flag Officers focused their resources on trying to locate the records the Marauders had requested. Additionally, Jim contacted retired Four Star General “Spider” Nyland. “Spider” in turn reached out to General Keith Stalder. When General Stalder called Ken to follow up, he was in a combat zone as the Commanding General of Marine Expeditionary Forces on the other side of the world. Stalder went on to immediately make phone calls to his connections for any information that could lead them to Lynch’s records.
On June 13th, Ryan Bach was contacted by Marine Colonel Eric D. Bartch notifying him that Lynch’s records had been found. Lynch’s file was delivered by special courier, to Bach’s residence in the Philippines.
Team Leader Bach reflects on the assignment:
Because I live in Asia and frequently travel to China, the Professor’s request became my mission. With very little time to accomplish our goal of finding a photograph and a family member, I pulled out all the stops. The team of volunteers I assembled was unbelievably talented and diverse. A doctor in Boston, where Lynch grew up and enlisted, searched local archives. A historian in Oklahoma delved into the world of genealogy. An attorney in Saipan consulted legal documents pertaining to the family.
Through the Marauder’s extensive military contacts, we secured the help of many active duty flag officers and their staffs. The determination demonstrated by these men and women, all volunteers, is really what sets the Marauders apart from other organizations. Through their hard work, I was able to slide that photograph of William Lynch across to Professor Yang at our meeting June 26, 2008, in the coffee shop of the Shanghai Hilton, along with the rest of every known military record pertaining to Staff Sergeant’s enlistment, capture, and imprisonment.
In about one month, the Marauders had accumulated more data on SSgt. Lynch than any previous researcher had in over 60 years. “ -----From the Americal Journal Oct./Nov./Dec. 2008 issue
The search for any remaining family of Lynch continued. Marauder Keith Hall contacted Dr. John McColgan, Deputy archivist for the city of Boston and Marie Daly, the Director of Library for the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Working with Dr. Phil Parks, they hoped to pursue a maternal genetic line of the Lynch family in order to obtain mitochondrial DNA which could be used to identify any remained uncovered. Through census records, Marie determined that Lynch had two brothers and a sister who had passed away, only the children of Lynch’s sister would have mitochondrial DNA that would match Lynch’s. Through combing Department of Motor Vehicle records and State Marriage records, she found the married name of Lynch’s sister and the names of her children. On July 11th, a mere two months after the team started their search, Lynch’s nieces were found. One, in particular, Judy Armour, told of her uncle being a family hero with his photo hanging on her grandmother’s wall for years while she was growing up. She said that her family had always wanted to know what happened to their uncle. Her grandmother died at the age of 90, never knowing what happened to her son.
Marie continued to be an advocate for the Marauder’s operation to further the search for Lynch. She recruited members from the Boston-area Marine Corps League, Boston Police Department, and Boston Fire Department to help raise funds and awareness for the search.
Professor Yang Jing continued research of his own. He traveled to the countryside of Northeast China and scoured the area where Lynch was recaptured, with clues divulged from the paperwork provided by the Marauders. Notably, the Marauders provided the professor with transcripts of interviews of the former Japanese Camp Commander who was questioned by the camp liberators about the whereabouts of SSgt. Lynch. Yang Jing went village to village, asking around to see if anyone could have been an eye-witness to Lynch’s recapture. Yang Jing also took the photograph of Lynch to the elderly man who worked at the prison hospital during World War II. The results were inconclusive, but it should be noted that after three years in prison enduring grueling conditions, Lynch probably didn’t resemble himself as a new, young recruit.
Pictured Above: Senator Scott Brown facilitating communication between Moore’s Marauders and the Chinese Embassy to the United States.
In 2008, the Marauders found documents signed by the Mukden prison warden transferring Lynch to Lushun prison, 300 miles south of Mukden.
Lushun was solely reserved for political prisoners, dissidents, resistance fighters, and spies. Those who perished at Lushun were executed by hand. Upon arrival, each inmate received a wooden barrel strapped to their back. They were told that the small wooden barrel would be their final resting place, and it was.
The same year that the Marauders found Lynch’s documents regarding Lushun, Professor Yang Jing located and interviews three survivors of Lushun prison, one of whom was incarcerated at the age of 10. Each reported seeing an American at Lushun, adamant that the prisoner was not European or Russian.
Lushun’s “secret cemetery” was found to hold buried barrels with human remains. A report by Moore’s Marauders declares:
“Sergeant Lynch’s remains are at Lushun prison’s cemetery in one of the 12 barrels already exhumed, or in one of the 40 underground anomalies discovered by Moore’s Marauders scientists in 2010.”
Pictured Above: Human remains in one of 12 barrels exhumed from Lushun’s “secret cemetery”
Ground Penetrating Radar Survey:
A ground penetrating radar survey was conducted at the Lushun Prison Cemetery on behalf of MOORE’S MARAUDERS on April 13 through April 16, 2010, using a Geophysical Survey Systems Inc, SIR-3000 pulse radar system. Leading the team to Lushun was none other than Marauder Team Leader Ryan Bach in a collaborative effort between Shenyang University, and the People’s Republic of China. The goal of the survey was to help delineate rows of wooden barrels containing the human remains of prisoners executed at the Lushun Prison during World War II. Anomalies found through the ground penetrating radar survey were mapped and presented by a report from Dr. Dean Goodman of the University of Georgia, Dr. Gus Pantel of the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, and Dr. Kent A. Schneider of Geophysical Archaeometry Laboratory. The report revealed anomalies without apparent order that may be interpreted as possible barrels. However, it was noted that the verification of these anomalies as barrels could only be fully determined by invasive testing.
Pictured Above: Marauder Team Leader Ryan Bach pictured with experts at Lushun to conduct a ground penetrating radar survey in April 2010. Pictured on the left side of the marker (left to right) are Dr. Kent Schneider, Ryan Bach, Dr. Dean Goodman, and Dr. Gus Pantel.
Pictured Above: 3D view with estimated topography for the Lushun Prison Cemetery published alongside findings of the report. The red spots indicate the anomalies detected.
In a newsletter from Moore’s Marauders, written by Ken, the organization was asked to reflect on SSgt. William Lynch:
“The breadcrumbs that Marine Sergeant William Lynch provided led the Marauders to China. The desire to stitch together his remarkably compelling story, providing his family closure, remained the objective. What we found when allowed inside the world’s largest communist country…. Was the compassion that the Chinese people have for the American family, their deep-seated sense of moral justice…how they see our fallen soldiers as their own heroes, their seemingly boundless determination to help recover our MIAs and thereby build ‘bridges of understanding’ between American and Chinese people, is profound… The sacrifices made by America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines in the mid-20th century to free the Chinese homeland from Japanese occupation may seem like ancient history to some, but it is a very real and tangible link to a brighter future for us all. “
As it turned out, although SSgt.William Joseph Lynch likely ended up in Lushan Prison, he didn’t get there by train.
The City of Boston officially offered its recognition and gratitude for Lynch’s loyalty and devotion to his country on August 14th, 1946. Just up the street from where Lynch grew up, on the corner of Victory Road and Neponset Avenue, a square was named after William J. Lynch. SSgt. Lynch was awarded a Purple Heart, an Army Distinguished Unit Badge with oak leaf cluster, a China Service Medal, a WWII Victory Medal, and a Philippine Defense ribbon with star.
Pictured Above: Recognition of SSgt. William J. Lynch’s service on behalf of the City of Boston signed by then-Mayor James M. Curley.
Pictured Above: Dorchester named a square down the street from 57 Victory Road in 1957 in William J. Lynch’s memory.
(The following document(s) and the information contained therein regarding Moore’s Marauders’, prospective MIA missions, is the sole and exclusive property of Kenneth James Moore. All rights reserved).
The following is a summary of MIA missions selected by Moore’s Marauders’ senior directorate for execution over a 3 year (36 month) period.
Total number of missions : 23, minimum
Region or area of the world: Global
Focus: Both theatres of World War Two, Vietnam ( Southeast Asia) , and Korea.
Order of execution: Varied, given weather, funding, and regional politics.
Commentary: 78,000 American servicemen vanished during 4 years of conflict never to be seen again. When most Americans hear of underground cities having been constructed by an enemy of the United States during times of war, thoughts generally turn to the battlefields of Vietnam, the enormous underground hospitals, living quarters armament storage and training facilities constructed by the NVA and Vietcong guerillas throughout their country over the course of decades; each interconnected over hundreds of square miles. The Vietnamese learned their craft from the Imperial Japanese of World War Two. Little is known outside the Marauder camp and the archives of today’s SDF (Japan’s Self-Defense Force) of the extent of Japan’s wartime underground “city building,” save that they were greater in number, larger in mass and stretch to this day across dozens of countries and thereby over thousands of miles. Founded upon our research and discoveries, it is the contention of this league of men and women known as Moore’s Marauders, that by penetrating these facilities, the remains of hundreds of America’s WWII and Korean War MIA’s will be found. The following summary relates to that contention. This pro-active approach to recovering the remains of America’s wartime MIA’s targeting subterraneous as well as standard surface objectives, is unique to the Marauders and thereby proprietary.
The term “mission” defined:
Marauder missions fall into 4 distinct categories. They are:
- Special Ops
- Fund raising events (FRE’s)
Expeditions: - Standard duration: 1-3 months
- Personnel participation duration: 14 days (average)
- Number of personnel: 12-50
Recons: - Standard duration: 1-100 days
- Personnel participation duration: up to one year
- Number of personnel: 3-12
Special Ops: - Standard duration: 1-365 days
- Personnel participation duration: until the op is completed.
- Number of personnel: 1-5
Fund-Raising Events - Standard duration 1-3 days
- Operation “ Bonkodon ko” Location: Pagan Island, Northern Mariana Archipelago: Type of Mission: Expedition. Objective: Locating the U.S. Navy Hellcat pilot, Lt. Roy Bechtol, and the hidden “ammunition house” in Pagan’s hillside. Reconned? Yes. Frequency: 3 Studied? Extensively.
- Operation “Baby Find.” Location: Bamban Philippines to Tempe Arizona. Type of
Mission: Special Op. Objective: Find the now 62 year old baby that 93 year old Lt. General and Arizona State University professor Frank Sackton saved during WWII, and effect a reunion in Tempe before General Sackton passes. Reconned? Yes. Frequency:6+
- Operation “Devil’s Triangle.” Location: Iwo Jima toMaug Island, CNMI. Type of mission: Recon. Objective: Defining the Japanese military’s relationship between the Bonin and Mariana Islands, identifying known downed B-29 bomber sites along the way.
Objective: Determining the final disposition of said bomber’s crews. Were they jailed on Maug, Pagan, killed then buried, or did they become the sustenance of Chi chi Jima’s known starving and abandoned Japanese forces? Reconned: No. Studied: yes
- Operation “ David.” Location: Laos. Type of Mission: Recon. Objective: David Hrdlicka was shot down over Laos in 1965. Classified as deceased, he was witnessed and photographed being very much alive more than half a dozen times over the course of the following 30 years, the most telling by a Russian news reporter. Effervescent and physically youthful 70 year old Carol Hrdlicka, David’s wife, is a member of the Marauders. This organization holds full rights to David and Carol’s true life struggle, one that parallels more than 600 Americans left behind in a war that never was: Laos. Reconned: unofficially. Studied? Voluminously.
- Operation “Rock Bottom,”the infamous Bataan Death March. Location: Luzon, Philippines. Type of Mission: Expedition. Objective: Marauder Team Leader, surgeon, and former South African Special Forces Major Dr. Francois Claassens, will lead the Marauders down the infamous highway that today marks one of the most disturbing events in American history, the surrender of U.S. forces by General Jonathan Wainwright in the Philippines, and the resulting Death March of Bataan. Through eyes that have seen far too many others, Francois points out that man’s inhumanity to his fellow man today continues on levels far exceeding that of Bataan, having hit “rock bottom.” This amazing soul driven in his youth to be seen as “special” argues from a place deep in his heart that few men have visited, for the need of a cathartic and secular reawakening of human respect. The Marauders website has attracted dozens of amazing stories about American MIAs who survived the Death March only to disappear thereafter. These real life stories and letters from Camp O’Donnell where the Death Marchers were later interred, can be told as the Marauders “walk the walk” led by Francois, down the road that once was the site of the butcherous, “Bataan Death March.” Reconned? Yes. Frequency: 3 Studied? Extensively. (Note: General Wainwright’s family are personal friends of Marauder founder, Kenneth Moore).
- Operation “ Bird’s nest.” Location: Saipan, CNMI. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: Found by first Marauder Team Member Glen Palacios and Kenneth Moore in 1998, atop and down the throat of Mt. Tapochau, Saipan’s highest elevation, lies a B-29 in exceptional condition with nearby remains (Why we don’t turn over U.S. remains to local CNMI officials can be discussed here). From atop Mt.Tapochau, the battle for Saipan, the crucible for the Japanese in the war of the Pacific, can still be seen with the aid of CG in all its magnificent and horrific splendor (The battle for the Marianas started 10 days after Normandy and as a result, has been historically minimized. What sets the taking of the Marianas apart fromNormandy is that while “Operation Overlord” involved British, Canadian, Pole and other allied nations, “Operation Forester” the taking of Saipan, Tinian, and Guam was strictly an all-American effort involving a near-equal, force strength. How the crew of this particular B-29 were killed has been made by analyzing the fuselage’s entry wounds. How the aircraft got there and unraveling the mystery of what happened to its crew, is mind-numbing. Reconned? Extensively. Frequency: 4 Studied? In progress.
- Operation “ Catacomb.” Location:Saipan, CNMI. Type of mission. Expedition.
Objective: The primary objective of Operation Catacomb” is to locate MIA remains within Imperial Japanese underground fortifications heretofore undiscovered, that honeycomb the island of Saipan, demonstrating their interconnectivity. The ramifications of revealing said fortifications would dispel the oft repeated historical “fact” that the Japanese were ill-prepared for the U.S. invasion of the Mariana Islands, thereby the kill ratio of 9.5-1 in favor of the U.S. Marine Corp in June of 1944, was not due to their superior combat capability. The Marauders contend that such a “fact” is an attempt at revisionism and can be dispelled by demonstrating said underground facilities and their vast interconnectivity. Sites: (1) Underwater Seaplane ramp and storage facility(with cave entrance) at Lao Lao Bay. Reconned ? Yes, and photographer (computer generated) by Marauders Donn and Dan Dunlop. ((2) Tunnel from Saipan port at Tannapag Harbor, to Saipan Airport, a distance of approximately 8 miles. (3) Beneath and to the side of each Japanese military airport in the Marianas is an underground “command and control” center. Saipan’s International airport and Tinian’s West Field now used for commercial traffic and Tinian’s North Field, a federal historical site, are no exceptions. Reconned? Yes. Frequency: 1 Studied? Note: These findings were acquired circa April 19th, 2007.
- Operation “ Pluto.” Location: Solomon Islands. Type of mission: Recon. Objective: Brigadier General Howard K. Ramey was one of only two U.S. generals to be listed MIA during WWII. Friend to the Marauders is famed Australian “Shark Hunter” Ben Cropp. Ben believes he found the wing and two of the engines from the general’s plane nicknamed “Pluto,” off the coast of Horn Island in the Solomon Islands. What needs to be found is the fuselage. Unable to do so on his own, Ben called the Marauders. This story is rich with supporting characters. In addition, in nearby Bathurst Bay, approximately 100 miles north of Cookstown, at 14. 12 S, 144.28 E, is the wreckage of a B-24. Research has shown that no known Liberator went down in this vicinity. B-24 bases were on nearby Darwin (home of the 5th Bomber Command) and Manbulloo Airfields. Reconned? Not by the Marauders. Studied? In depth
- Operation “Gotcha” !” Location:Tinian Island, CNMI. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: Phase One: “Hagoi Command Post,” Mt. Lasso. The Japanese are famed for their euphemisms, especially when it comes to the subject of war. Odd that a nation under imperial rule who abandoned to starvation tens of thousands of their troops throughout the Pacific, would build massive “hospitals” as oft noted on captured WWII Japanese maps …and build them with such frequency. Many of these so-called hospitals have never been officially witnessed. Those that were, were quickly bulldozed over by U.S. forces. One lies beneath Mt. Lasso. It may be related to a similar “hospital” on Pagan. Lasso is on Federal not CNMI land. (That’s a plus). Phase Two: aka Operation “Taga Stone.” Location: Tinian Island, CNMI. Type of Expedition: Recon. Objective: The other underground Tinian “hospital.” On an island once defended by less than 9,000 Japanese troops, the second “hospital” lies approx. five miles from the first. Why two? Reconned? Yes. Frequency: 2 Studied: (Special note: Identifying the location of numerous heretofore unknown Japanese underground facilities throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands came as the result of Marauder Hiro-San, an aerial tourist guide to returning WWII Japanese veterans for over 20 years Reconned? Yes. Studied: The U.S. National archives in San Bruno, California possess a large collection of documents and photographs relating to the military development of Saipan and Tinian during the 1940’s. Further investigation required.
- Operation “Desperation.”Location: The lesser known “Suicide Cliff” on Tinian Island, CNMI. Type of Mission: Expedition. Objective: Working with the Japanese government, preferably the SDF, the Marauders would like to turn over the remains of perhaps as many as 60 Japanese civilians many of whom were women and small children, to the Japanese government. These remains were found by Team Leaders Matt Christiansen, Donn Dunlop and Dr. Tom Arkle in 2006.
- Operation “Banbam.” Location, Luzon Philippines. Type of Mission: Expedition.
Objective: Lt. James H. Hart is perhaps the U.S. Marine Corps’ most revered WWII MIA. When General Wainwright surrendered at Corregidor, Lt. Hart refused . Instead of laying down his arms, Hart headed north into the mountains and developed his own guerilla operation. So successful were his efforts, that General Yamashita literally put a bounty on his head and sent an entire division to stop him. Captured literally in his lover’s arms in a Nipa hut in Banbam, Hart was ceremoniously beheaded while forced to stare into Corregidor’s “rising sun.” The spy who sold him out was tried in the Allies post war tribunal. Hart’s lover’s testimony is steep with detail. Hart’s sister in Salinas, California has been contacted by the Marauders and is very supportive. Colonel Rafael R. Estrada who fought alongside Hart, has been interviewed by Marauder Team Leader Dr. Francois Claassens. Team Leaders Ryan Bach and Joseph Mendoza have worked with local Bamban historian Rhonie Dela Cruz to secure the site of the hut and that of Hart’s remains. Reconned? Yes. Frequency: 4-6. Studied: Extensively.
EACH OF THE FOLLOWING CONSTITUTE “OPERATION HELPING HAND.” Four of the five following sites involve underground facilities in EXTREMELY remote corners of the Pacific where Japanese soldiers committed mass suicide in the tens of thousands. The purpose behind “Operation Helping Hand” is to demonstrate good will to the people of Japan, develop a relationship with the SDF, and ultimately gain access to the SDF’s archives. Working with the Marauders is Ms. Tojo, the granddaughter of General Hideki Tojo, and Stanford professor Dr. Toshio Nishi, Ph.D
- Operation “Helping Hand.” Location: Camiling, Philippines. Type of mission: Recon. Reconned? Yes. Objective: Penetrating the extensive, fortified underground caves at Camiling.Yes.Frequency? Once. Studied: Moderately.
- Operation “Helping Hand.” Location:Capas, Philippines. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: Penetrating the extensive, fortified underground caves at Capas. Reconned? No. Studied: Extensively.
- Operation “Helping Hand.” Location: Woleai,Yap Islands. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: Penetrate the island’s underground facility and locate Japanese servicemen’s remains. In June of 1944, in preparation for the U.S. invasion of Yap that never came, the Japanese military forces on Woleai and Ulithi moved to defend the main island of Yap. Left to defend (and ultimately starve), were a contingent of approximately 2,000 to defend the each of the island’s airstrip and radio stations. Guided by Marauder Team Member and former Yap police sergeant Sesario Sewralur with the help of Marauder Team Member and former Yap college professor, Dr. Robert Erickson, the Marauders will penetrate the underground facilities on these islands. Reconned? No. Studied: Extensively.
- Operation “ Helping Hand.” Location: Ulithi,YapIslands. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: The same as noted above in Mission #14 Reconned? Yes. Studied. Extensively (Note: Navy UDT experts Warren Christiansen and Bill Moore, deployed from the U.S.S. Burrfish, were killed and reportedly buried on Ulithi).
- Operation “Helping Hand.” Location: The Philippine Sea 7 miles east ofSaipan. Type of mission: Deep dive Recon. Believed to be the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyo (Flying Falcon) or the Yakaku, both having been sunk by U.S. Hellcat fighters from the Yorktown on June 20th, 1944. The carrier sits on a shelf in the Mariana Trench 7 miles off the coast of Saipan in approx. 400 feet of water. Heretofore undiscovered, she (the Hiyo) went down with all hands on board. Marauder Director of Operations Matt Christiansen has researched the coordinates of the site using U.S. Navy logs and other resources. It is not a registered wreck. The Japanese Navy’s first Master Chief Petty Officer Ikuo Saga, now retired (but of enormous fame in Japan for literally having saved his country from a major terrorist attack) may be participatory. Reconned? Yes, on a preliminary basis. Studied? Extensively.
Note: This find would be the crowning achievement in “Operation Helping Hand.” It would generate major headlines in Tokyo and immeasurable good will towards Americans. The Marauders know where the carrier lies. We simply have to have the right equipment to explore and film it).
- Operation “Liberators over Mille Island.” Location, Mille Island, the Marshall Group. Type of mission: Expedition, land and sea. Mille Island was a key defense position for the Japanese in 1944, Its 6.15 square mile land mass was disproportionately fortified with 122 dual purpose coastal battery and AA installations. Mille was the next step in the Allies island-hopping campaign before Saipan. Heavily bombarded by B-24 Liberators, at least 6 were downed and 60 U.S.crewmen went MIA, accordingly. In
addition, Navy Action Reports from the Yorktown indicate additional Hellcat Fighter losses over Mille.( ie., the aircraft of Navy Lt. J. T. Furstenberg crashed on Mille. Witnesses watched it “flip upside down, explode and sink into the island’s lagoon on June 20th, 1944 at approx. 0647. Lost also on the same run was Lt. C.W. Nelson USNR VT-1 Pilot). It’s the learned opinion of the Marauders that Mille’s tiny lagoon holds the majority of the downed aircraft. Reconned? No. Studied? Extensive and on-going.
- Operation “Namesake.” Location:Myitkyina,Myanmar (Burma). Type of mission: Expedition. Having walked more than a 1,000 miles from India through Burma, the premiere jungle fighters of WWII Merrill’s Marauders, attacked the Japanese held airfield at Myitkyina near the Irrawaddy River on May 17th, 1944. resulting in one hundred and eleven Marauder MIAs (list of names with general vicinity on file). In 1997, Moore’s Marauders Team Member and world famous hot air balloonist Kevin Uliassi, launched his solo journey around the world. Mechanical failure forced him down over Burma. Captured by the Myanmar military, Kevin believed he had breathed his last until the general in charge stepped forward . As fate would have General Thien Zaw was a hot air balloonist enthusiast. Together with Myanmar’s Ambassador to the United States Tin Win, Kevin who is a practicing architect in Scottsdale, Arizona, has negotiated on behalf of his Marauder teammates, the opportunity for free passage through Myanmar to fulfill the modern day Marauders’ mission of recovering the remains of their fallen namesakes. Reconned? No. Studied: Extensively (Note: Kevin’s balloon was recently purchased by the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum to be put on display in Washington, D.C.)
- Operation “Reciprocity.” Location: Mainland,Japan (Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe, Yawana). Type of Mission: Expedition. Objective: Through “Operation Helping Hand,” the Marauders have aided extensively in the recovery of Japanese soldiers remains. In return, we’d ask for assistance to investigate the sites and recover the remains of downed B-29 pilots throughout Mainland Japan. Assisting the Marauders in this effort would be Dr. Toshio Nishi, Ph.d of Stanford and TokyoUniversities, and “Ms. Tojo,” General Hidaki Tojo’s granddaughter.
- Operation “ Cantankerous.” Location: Chosin, NK. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: Recovery of MIAs in a country closed to outsiders. Because of their backgrounds or current occupation, many members of the Marauders do not appear on our website. Many other non-members who support the Marauders (and specifically the “civilian profile” of our mission), are employed in high levels of the U.S. and other governments throughout the world whose identities cannot be made public. As of the last 48 hours as a result of my out reach for support on Korean War MIA’s, I received the following report: (1) the leader of said country “religiously” watches THE HISTORY CHANNEL (History International?) (2) Has knowledge of Moore’s Marauders…that raised the hair on the back of my neck. The guy actually knows my name!!!!! (3) Prior to Bill Richardson’s visit, had no idea of American interest in MIAs (4) For reasons regarding electricity from China, needs to improve his image in U.S.?? (5) Would consider allowing safe passage for the Marauders to explore the Chosin Reservoir region. Reconned? No. Studied? Under way (Response: “Hell yes, we’ll go!!!).
- Operation “Biden.” Location: The U.S. Senate/ Papau New Guinea. Type of mission: Recon. Objective: Senator Joe Biden of Deleware, is currently the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Biden’s father went MIA over Papau, New Guinea. The Marauders would welcome the opportunity to further research and develop this opportunity. Reconned? No. Studied? Preliminarily
- Operation “ Tears of Remorse.” Location: Leyte Island, The Philippines. Type of mission: Expedition. Objective: The name “Leyte” is historically familiar to many as the location of the largest sea battle in modern history. “Leyte Gulf” however, was merely the precursor to the October 1944 invasion of Leyte Island. Purportedly working today with Ambassador Yan, the Philippine Ambassador to Thailand, himself a Bataan Death March survivor, Profssor Augusto De Viana from the University of Santo Thomas, Dr. Toshio Nishi of Stanford, all spearheaded by Marauder Team Member Dr. Dirk Ballendorf, The Marauders will land where General MacArthur once landed near the city of Ormoc, and work inward to the highland jungles of Leyte to where General Suzuki withdrew to make his stand against the American 77th Infantry Division. As many as 200 U.S. and Philippine guerilla MIAs may be recovered along the way ( It was here in the highlands where General Yamashita, the “Tiger of Malay,” radioed Suzuki offering , “ I shed tears of remorse for my countrymen who must fight to the death on Leyte”…as they did… to the last man. Reconned? No. Studied: Yes.
23-28: To follow.
SUGGESTED TOPICS FOR FUTURE HISTORY CHANNEL EPISODES:
- Operation “Candy Stripers.” Location: Hickman AFB, Hawaii. Type of mission: Recon, profiling the DOD/JPAC. In an attempt to make my point clear when speaking of the relationship between JPAC and the Marauders, I often use the analogy of volunteer hospital workers known as “Candy Stripers.” These are young men and women who voluntarily support the activities of the medical professionals in hospitals and nursing care facilities throughout the country; the former often doing the dirty work for the latter. That’s how the Marauders need to be perceived by JPAC. The weakness in the analogy is that unlike the majority of hospital workers who fall under the category of “Candy Stripers” the Marauders cumulative professional credentials, available manpower and ability to perform is equal to that of JPAC’s and may in some cases, exceed it. Sometimes as a result, the Marauders are perceived as a threat to the job security of some JPAC personnel.
- Operation “Introspection.” Location:Richmond, British Columbia and Kerrville, Texas. Type of mission: Recon. Objective: To peer graciously into the lives of two of the Marauders most extraordinary Team Leaders, Matt Christiansen and Gerry Flowers. A Canadian citizen, Gerry joined the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1970’s, to fight in Vietnam. Thereafter, he went to school to become a private pilot (rotary and fix wing) for a major Canadian corporation and certified international accident scene investigator. How and why he became a Marauder and the important contributions he makes is in itself, a tale of extraordinary bravery and self-sacrifice. Not to be outdone, Marauder Team Leader , Director of Operations and thereby second in command, Matt Christiansen left the U.S. after 14 years of service, giving up a lifetime pension for one reason, to become a full time Marauder. As an Explosive Ordinance Disposal Expert, Matt has and continues to be called upon by the Secret Service, to travel alongside many of today’s well-known political figures like Senator John Kerry, and visiting foreign dignitaries. Matt’s dedication to the Marauder mission speaks volumes not only of who he is but who this exceptional league of men and women, truly are.
“The study of war promotes its absence, the absence of its study promotes its propagation.”
“Some say that World War Two is no longer relevant. I say it is that point from whence freemen take their measure.”
“Over the course of six years, from 1939 to 1945, one human being lost their life every 3 seconds. Or put another way, because two spoiled brats at either end of the sand box who’s parents failed to teach them how to share, sixty million people died.
“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any way, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive veterans of previous wars, and how they were treated and appreciated by this country.”
… George Washington
( I recommend that General Washington’s quote be shown at the beginning of every “ No Man Left Behind” episode).
THE MARAUDER PLEDGE
By Kara Ardan
Fearless Compassion. It’s a commitment. A commitment made by a handful of the living to the 90,000 who died in service to our nation whose whereabouts remain unknown. It is a commitment that says,
“No matter where I must go or what hardships I will be forced to endure, I will find where you lie, celebrate your life, honor your sacrifices and with these things, bring closure to all who love you still. I will do this for you because you did so much for me. You died so that I might live free.“
Fearless Compassion. It is what an 8 year old boy first pledged some 50 years ago, to a photograph of a World War Two combat veteran — his mother’s missing brother.
Today, half a century later, Ken Moore’s “fearless compassion” has generated an international following. He and his remarkable, all-volunteer league of highly skilled men and women known as Moore’s Marauders, scour the battlefields of the Pacific, Europe, Korea and Southeast Asia in search of American servicemen who to this day remain unaccounted for…who remain, Missing in Action.
“The Unknown leaves its mark for generations,” offers Ken. “It rips through a family, destroying lives long after wars end. For a nation, for this nation, it is a tragedy that cannot be allowed to continue.”
Working side-by-side their Marauder American teammates, are volunteers from Canada, South Africa, Australia, the Philippines, Korean and China, each taking time away from their families, using vacation leave, often paying for expenses out of their own pocket, in hopes that resolving the past will one day bring about a brighter future for all.