Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Gathering of the Relics

Last week I accompanied Bruce to the wreckage in the lagoon commonly referred to as the B-29. Bruce has determined that the wreckage is absolutely not a B-29, and he is making it a personal challenge to identify just exactly what kind of plane it was. He invited me to come along to take pictures of the wreckage in hopes that it would help him find something he could use to identify it properly. Bruce is posing here next to one of the 4 massive engines and propellers. Since neither of us is exactly a spring chicken anymore, it was kind of like a couple relics visiting another relic. I just figured I'd say it before Angelo, Jeff or Mike had a chance to do it. This is either the nose or the tail cone with a cannon mounted in it. While the years have definitely taken their toll on the wrecked pieces of this plane, and there is coral growth on much of it, it's amazing how well preserved some of it still is considering it's been soaking in salt water for the last 60+ years. As I was looking at this particular piece of the wreckage, I started wondering about the person who was sitting behind that cannon when the plane went down. Was he American or Japanese? Did it matter? Did he survive the crash of his plane, did any of the members of the crew of this plane? How old was he? Was he married, did he have children? What were the thoughts going through his mind as he found himself in the middle of this horrible battle? After having talked to several of the returning veterans during the 60th commemoration of the Battle of Saipan, I had a whole new perspective on just how ugly the battle here was and how it left life long scars on so many of those who served here. Yes, we have various war memorials, and there is even a memorial at the site of this plane crash, but somehow it just seems so inadequate in light of what took place here. I'm not going to debate whether war is justified or what happened, that is for minds far greater than mine. I am only here to pause and reflect on what happened, and to say a prayer for the families of those left behind, and a prayer of thanks for those willing to give so much for our freedom. So if you can help identify what type of plane this was from the wreckage, please contact Bruce and give him any help you can. If you'd like to see a few more pictures of the wreckage and different pieces, you can go to the Smugmug gallery I have set up for the wreckage of this plane. But if you do nothing else, stop for a few moments today and reflect on the terrible price that was paid for these islands, and remember the men who served here and their families.