Coast Guard to Bring Fallen Airmen Home -– 70 years Later


Never let it be said that the U.S. Coast Guard doesn't take care of its own in addition to others.

The service today began the public process of searching for a company who can bring three airmen killed in the line of duty – on November 29, 1942 – back home to U.S. soil.

The difficulty is that the three men, two from the Coast Guard and one from the Army, are encased in ice, 40 ft. below the surface near Koge Bay, Greenland, in their amphibious J2F-4.

“The United States Coast Guard has located a downed J2F-4 Grumman Duck aircraft in the arctic of Greenland that was lost during World War 2,” reads the sources sought notice in today’s Federal Business Opportunities website. “The aircraft is in a remote region of the arctic and buried under 40 feet of ice.” Onboard, presumably, are Coast Guard Lt. John Pritchard, Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms and U.S. Army Air Force Cpl. Loren Howarth.

The Coast Guard announced in January that it had found the Duck after three years of analysis and a seven-day search by 17-member expedition made up of Coast Guard members and North South Polar, an expedition company, using ground penetrating radar, a magnetometer and metal detection equipment.

“The Duck’s last flight, with Pritchard at the controls and Bottoms serving as radioman, was an attempt to rescue seven members of a U.S. Army Air Force B-17 Air Transport Command crew that had crashed during a search mission on Nov. 9, 1942. On Nov. 28, 1942, Pritchard and Bottoms had successfully flown the Duck to rescue two members of the B-17 crew during an unprecedented landing on the Greenland Ice Cap. When the two Coast Guardsmen returned the following day, they picked up Howarth, the B-17’s radioman. They were attempting to reach the Coast Guard Cutter Northland when they encountered whiteout conditions and crashed. The wrecked Duck was first spotted a week later by a U.S. Army aircrew, which reported no signs of life. The remaining B-17 crewmen were sustained with air drops until they were rescued approximately six months later."

And now the others will be rescued, thanks to this team.

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