WWII Memorial to be dedicated on Pacific Island of Yap
Yap Island, FSM, June 12th, 2010: The Yap Visitors Bureau (YVB) and the Missing Air Crew Project (MACP) announce the dedication of one of the most unique World War II memorials in the Pacific. The newly constructed site displays the wreckage of a plane flown by Ens. Joseph Cox (from Idaho) and will be dedicated July 27th, symbolizing the tremendous sacrifice and loss of human life near this Pacific Island during WWII. The YVB and MACP have been working together for several years to preserve and remember this very special group of soldiers.
In the historical context of WWII and the Pacific theatre, American losses near Yap (now part of the Federated States of Micronesia) were substantial yet continue to be overlooked even today. Strategically located between the Philippines and Guam, Japanese occupied Yap was targeted almost daily from June of 1944 to August of 1945 at the cost of hundreds of American men, 110 of which remain classified as missing in action (MIA). Pat Ranfranz (from Cameron, WI), founder of the MACP has spent over 20 years researching Yap during WWII and the stories behind each soldier and his mission, hoping to preserve their memories for generations to come. Pat’s uncle is among the soldiers that remain MIA.
The memorial to be dedicated on July 27th displays the actual wreckage of an F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ens. Joseph Cox, one of 36 planes American planes that fell near the island. Joseph’s plane was shot down with three other Hellcats from the USS Enterprise on September 6, 1944 and was only recently recovered moderately intact. “It is truly one of the most unique wrecks and now memorials in the Pacific,” explains Pat. “After the war, most of the wreckage throughout the world was picked over and removed. Fortunately in this case, the Yapese have respected the wreckages as grave sites and taken care to preserve them and remember the American men who lost their lives during the war.” Joseph’s plane was spared from the expanding Yap landfill in 2008 and relocated to government held land. Displayed on a concrete pad next to an all-weather sign and memorial marker describing the man, the plane, and the mission, the YVB together with the MACP were able to construct one of the finest memorials to American men lost in WWII’s Pacific theatre.
Pat Ranfranz is extremely grateful for the work that has been done to make the memorial come together. “This would not have been possible without the work done by the people of Yap and the Yap Visitors Bureau to save and preserve the American crash sites and wreckages that remained after the war. Too many people have forgotten the men who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII. This memorial and others on Yap Island will help to immortalize the forgotten and bring meaning to their sacrifices.” Attending the dedication will be Yap Governor Sebastian Anefal, US Ambassador Peter A. Prahar and other dignitaries along with the 90 year old brother of the pilot, Ellis Cox of Idaho.
The memorial dedication, open to the press, will take place from 2-4pm near the Public Works building on the Island of Yap. Please contact the YVB for assistance if your organization would like to attend. Both Pat Ranfranz and representatives from the YVB are available for interviews between now and July (see the contact information at the top of this release). Pat Ranfranz will also be available in Tokyo July 19-20th and Guam July 20th while traveling to Yap. For more information about the memorial dedication and Missing Air Crew Project, visit: https://www.missingaircrew.com or https://www.mantaray.com.
Peter A. Prahar, U.S. Ambassador, Federated States of Micronesia standing in front of the Ens. Joseph Cox F6F-5 Hellcat Memorial on Yap Island.
Patrick Ranfranz stands next to the Ens. Joseph Cox F6F-5 Hellcat wreckage after it was saved.
Missing Air Crew Project
Tel: (715) 458-0020
Cell: (612) 282-5624
Manta Ray Bay Resort
Fax: (691)350-4567 or 3841
Pat Ranfranz started researching his uncle’s (T/Sgt John R. McCullough) downed aircraft almost 25 years ago while in college. First traveling to Yap in 2005 to find his uncle’s missing plane, Pat has researched, located and documented numerous other missing American planes lost over Yap during the war. The Missing Air Crew Project is thrilled to be joined this summer by two members of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. They volunteered to help the Missing Air Crew Project this summer after hearing a talk from Pat Ranfranz at a dive show last winter. Bringing with them additional deep water search equipment to locate T/Sgt John R. McCullough’s B-24 bomber, the project hopes to bring closure to this decades long search.
Pat Ranfranz, the Missing Crew Project, and the Woods Hole volunteers will be in Yap this summer from July 18-28, 2010
On July 27, 2010 the island of Yap will dedicate the Ens. Joseph Cox F6F-5 Hellcat memorial. The Ens. Cox Hellcat is one of 36 American planes shot down over Yap during World War II. Although the plane was shot down with three other Hellcat’s from the USS Enterprise on September 6, 1944 the plane remains relatively intact. It is truly one of the most unique wrecks and now memorials in the Pacific.
Mantas, Barrakudas, Schildkröten, Herden von Büffelkopf-Papageifischen, Mandarinfisch-Mating und nicht zuletzt auch hautnahe Begegnungen mit verschiedenen Hai-Arten in kristallklarem Wasser machen die mikronesische Insel Yap zu einem Traumziel für Fotografen und Filmer. Vom 4. bis zum 14. September veranstalten Manta Ray Bay Resort & Yap Divers zum vierten Mal in Folge das Shoot-Out „Manta Fest“. Zu gewinnen gibt es nicht nur fünf Reisen zurück nach Yap, sondern auch wertvolle Praxistipps von den renommierten US-Fotoprofis Andy Sallmon, Tim Rock und Ray Bullion.
Weitere Informationen: www.mantafest.com
„Fast alle Unterwasserfoto-Festivals werden an Orten veranstaltet, wo man schöne Landschaften und nette Korallenfische ablichten kann“, sagt Mantaflüsterer Bill Acker. „Bei uns können Fotografen und Filmer darüber hinaus zusätzlich mit Mantas und Haien interagieren und sich über mehr als 60 Meter Sichtweite am Außenriff freuen.“ Wiederholungsbesuche von National Geographic, Voxtours sowie von Filmteams der BBC und des ZDF und etlichen Bildjournalisten geben dem gebürtigen Texaner Recht. Welches andere Fotofestival wirbt schon selbstbewusst mit einer Kategorie „Mantas & Haie“? Neben Standardkategorien wie „Landschaft“ und „Makro“ stehen auch „Verhalten“sowie „Land & Leute“ auf der Agenda. Schließlich gilt Yap mit seinem bunten kulturellen Erbe und traditionellen Tänzen als ursprünglichstes Reiseziel Mikronesiens.
Als Hauptgewinn winkt in jeder Kategorie ein Urlaubspaket im Manta Ray Bay Resort Yap mit sieben Nächten und fünf Tauchtagen. Bill Acker: „Damit erstatten wir den Gewinnern quasi rückwirkend die Kosten für Wohnen und Tauchen.“ Außerdem, so erklärt Bill, seien die Flugpreise dank einer exklusiven Vereinbarung mit Continental Airlines für europäische Gäste so günstig wie nie zuvor (s. www.mantaray.com).
Während des zehntägigen Foto-Festivals im September werden Andy Sallmon, Tim Rock und Ray Bullion nachmittags Seminare im Schulungsraum abhalten, nach Sonnenuntergang Großbild-Vorführungen an Deck des antiken Segelschoners Mnuw präsentieren und am Ende der Veranstaltung die besten Aufnahmen prämieren.
Weitere Informationen: www.mantafest.com, www.mantaray.com.
Honorarfreie Bilder (© Daniel Brinckmann): www.
Anfragen Presse / Reiseveranstalter: email@example.com
Every diver will have their favorite dive site or most memorable dive. But being as fortunate as I am to be working at the Manta Ray Bay Resort here in Yap, I feel I am spoiled for choice. But still, as spoiled as I am, I still have my favorite dive site. And for me it has to be Vertigo…by miles! Located on the Northwest side of the island, it is always protected from the wind and thus is good to dive pretty much all of the time. It is easy to get to as well, just a quick dart through the German channel and you are pretty much there.
For me, I love to dive where I have a wall on one side and the blue on the other and of course good visibility is a must. Vertigo offers all three. The coral is mainly hard coral, but the wall just drops and drops, seemingly to infinity. The visibility is endless, easily over 100ft, so you get a great view whether you are looking up or down, left or right. But for me, the blue is the most impressive. It is such a rich hue of blue, it’s hard to pull your eyes from it. And of course from the blue comes the amazing, wonderful sharks. One minute there is nothing and then you can just make out something moving towards you and then there it is, one, two then three and then over a dozen sharks. Before long they are curiously moving in for a closer look.
Vertigo is a paradise for divers fascinated with sharks. The main visitors to Vertigo are the grey reef, black tip and white tip sharks but we have also seen Silkies and Scalloped Hammerheads. If you are lucky you may even get to see the grouper that lurks deep down in the depths. Now I’m not one for exaggerating, but it is at least 10 feet in length. There are also literally thousands of colorful tropical fish living up near the surface so this is a dive with a little bit of everything – including lots of sharks.
Another reason Vertigo is my favorite place to dive is because it’s where Bill Acker took me as a dive student for my open water course. And on only my third dive had me roll off the back of the boat and land in the middle of at least 30 sharks and in one instant took 10 years off my life with the shock!
My name is Valerie Acker Sullivan and I am a dive guide in training at my family’s dedicated dive resort – the Manta Ray Bay. Today marked my 10th diving expedition as a member of the Yap Divers’ Crew and we were scheduled for an all day 3 tank dive. Our boat driver was John John and our dive guide was R.J. along with myself. The guests were a local diver (Diana), two single New Yorkers (Chad and Liza), an American couple living outside of Tokyo, Japan (Dylan and Teresa), and an Israeli couple (David the diver and Naama his 5 month pregnant snorkeler wife).
Beginning at the dock everyone was having fun getting to know one another. We were greeted with a beautiful sunny day and calm waters so the day was magical from the start. Our first stop was Yap Caverns (my personal favorite). The dive is full of caves and swim-throughs featuring several moray eels and lion fish to keep every diver happy. On top of this we saw 2 leaf fish, 2 mantas shrimps and a white tip reef shark getting his daily grooming from a group of cleaner wrasses at the shark cleaning station. As if that wasn’t a wonderful first dive as it was, I saw a turtle as I was doing my safty stop. (Turtle number one of the day).
Our next stop was Big Bend along the west side of the island. This dive site was no less exciting for the moment we entered the water, we spotted a resting sting ray underneath a coral overhang and shortly afterwards a turtle. (Turtle number 2 of the day). There was a nice current with crystal clear water so we enjoyed a beautiful drift dive full of tropical fish and gorgeous corals.
On our way to the 3rd dive site we spotted mating turtles! (Turtles number 3 and 4 of the day) but the excitement continued as we came across a pod of dolphins! At first we were shocked that they didn’t want to play, so we jumped in with snorkels to see them. Shorty afterwards we realize why they didn’t play as we jumped in right on top of a school of barracudas which the dolphins were fishing for! From the boat we watched as barracudas jumped out of the water in a frenzy trying to escape the dolphins! What an amazing experience.
Finally we arrive at Mi’l Channel. With everyone still hyped about all the excitement of the day, we almost passed up doing our final dive. Boy that would have been a mistake – a big mistake. With perfect conditions – an incoming tide, crystal clear water and a tropical sunset – we jumped in. The channel was so clear you could see both sides and the bottom some 90 feet down. Riding the light current was a good relaxing way to end the day of diving and it would have been a fine ending to a wonderful day but as we arrived at Tzimoulis Ridge (sometimes still referred to as Manta Ridge), a solitary male manta came cruising by on his way out to sea. No sooner had I turned from watching him than I see an entire “herd” of mantas heading directly towards me. In my excitement I lost count of how many mantas actually went by! It was a good thing that they finally passed because we were all almost out of air and haven’t even begun our safty stop!
Once on the boat we confirmed that there were 14 mantas altogether. That dive sealed the day for us and boy was it a day to remember. I would like to tell everyone that it was just another typical day in Yap, but it was pretty special – even for here. I am looking forward to joining my Dad, Bill Acker, on his weekly Thursday Diving Safari to see if we can repeat the spectacle. I invite you to join me anytime and I will be happy to show you the underwater magic that is Yap Island.
Last Thursday saw Popou full with another group of intrepid divers heading out with Bill to explore some wonderful dive sites in Yap. This trip out we headed to the south of the island to two of my favorite dive sites, namely Yap Caverns and Cabbage Patch.
The visibility was excellent at the Yap Caverns and we had very little current so the swim throughs were very easy. This dive produced some great marine life for us all to photograph. We had octopus, lion fish, three leaf fish and a very colorful mantis shrimp as well as a few passing white tips.
The surface interval offered a great opportunity to check out each other’s pictures whilst having some delicious banana bread washed down with a cup of tea. We spent a fun hour telling stories and having some really good banter back and forth.
The short journey up to Cabbage Patch gave us time to suit up for the next dive. Cabbage Patch is a large expanse of hard coral mainly pachyseris speciosa, which offers a chance to spot some lovely nudibranchs which we only ever find at this site called chelidonura inornata. This particular dive gave us an abundance of bump head parrot fish as well.
The guests on this trip out were Ron Lane, Birmingham, UK; Rob Reid, Birmingham UK; Julie Quickfall & David Williams, Somerset, UK; Brian Smith, California, USA; Peter Schmidt & Martina Sebastian, Schonerfeld, Germany; Kurt Fehr, Lenzburg, Switzerland Rudolf Argay, Basel, Switzerland. Also joining on the dive boat were Bill’s two daughters Numie and Valerie. Boat captain was Igy and Alex helped Bill out by being assistant dive guide.
Check out our blog next week for the next safari…