Airplane debris linked to W.W. II

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Airplane debris linked to W.W. II
    WATER AGENCY HOPES TO IDENTIFY 2 PILOTS
    By Tom Ragan
    MediaNews
    San Jose Mercury News
    Article Launched:08/ 19/2007 01:50:44 AM PDT


    Under clear moonlit skies more than 60 years ago, a pair of pilots
    lost control of their U.S. Navy plane during a nighttime training
    mission 10,000 feet over Watsonville' s Pajaro Valley.

    They crashed and burned on Jan. 14, 1944, the debris from their two-
    seater plane with a machine gun in back scattered in all directions.

    Seems like old news.

    But that was the update this week on what up until now had been an
    unsolved mystery into airplane wreckage unearthed by a construction
    crew laying pipeline near the Pajaro River in north Monterey County
    in early July.

    The Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency has since collected, then
    safely secured the artifacts discovered in the middle of farmland -
    including a high school class ring, a can of Spam, bullet casings,
    landing gear, spent flares, a singed parachute and, perhaps most
    important, the bone fragments from the pilot and co-pilot.

    Now the water agency will begin the difficult mission of trying to
    track down the living family members of Delbert C. Goodspeed, 21, and
    Robert Henry Paulsen, 22, who took to the air with the rest of their
    VB-18 squadron from a naval air base in the Central Valley, but never
    returned.

    "Something clearly went wrong," Jack Green, a historian for the U.S.
    Naval Historical Center in Washington, D.C., said in releasing
    details behind the accident and the type of plane. "Toward dawn, it
    appeared that the plane just slowly banked off to the left, which
    would indicate the pilot was probably unconscious. "

    According to Green, the men had been conducting nighttime training
    missions "under clear moonlit skies" and learning maneuvers that they
    were intended to ultimately use in the Pacific Ocean aboard the
    aircraft carrier, Intrepid.

    "Their primary targets were going to be surface ships and land
    targets," said Green, adding that the model of airplane, known as the
    Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless, was famous for its performance in the Battle
    of the Midway, where it was successful in torpedoing four Japanese
    carriers.

    Although the Navy never got to the bottom of what went wrong with the
    airplane, Green said military airplane accidents were common at home
    during World War II - mostly because the United States was "mass
    producing airplanes and mass producing pilots."

    "Time was of the essence, as you know," he said. "There were more
    airplane accidents from training, in fact, than there were in the war
    itself. Accidents were a fact of life back then."

    And it was this fact of life that the construction crew happened upon
    on July 3 about 6 feet underground, less than 100 yards from the
    Pajaro River levee near Trafton Road, just west of Highway 1.

    By law, the water agency must preserve any artifacts uncovered during
    excavations related to agency affairs, said Mary Bannister with the
    water agency.

    "We'd like to find the families and return the belongings," she
    said. "But it's going to be tough."

    She said one Sand City police officer, after reading about the water
    agency's dilemma, offered his investigative services.

    If all else fails, Bannister said she'd hand everything over to the
    Navy.

    Richard Hernandez, an assistant archivist with the Pajaro Valley
    Historical Association in Watsonville, said a shrine will be erected
    at the site of the crash.

    Bannister thinks it's a good idea.

    "These guys were heroes," she said. "In a lot of ways, they died for
    us and our freedom."
     
  2. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    Two more aviators going home...... good to hear this.

    Charles
     
  3. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    With something like 75,000 to 80,000 missing in WWII, it's good to hear that two more can come home. :salute: :salute:

    One little mistake in the article...guess the writer is not a WWII historian.

     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Interestingly, I recently met someone whose last name was Goodspeed. I wonder if there is any relation there.
     
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