A retired Camp Lejeune marine is packing his bags and leaving Jacksonville. Not for a vacation, but for yet another mission.
Derek Abbey and several other volunteers will arrive this weekend in a tiny country in the far Western Pacific. The volunteers will search for World War II POW and MIA.
The volunteers are part of a group called the Bent Prop Project.
Each spring, the Bent Prop volunteers search for wreckage of planes and the remains of men who gave their lives defending our country.
Abbey met the project's founder, Dr. Patrick Scannon, while he was stationed in California.
The two spoke about the many air battles over Palau. Abbey says he was sold on the Bent Prop Project and knew he could use his scuba diving and aviator skills to help.
"They're not forgotten," says Abbey. "There's a big hole that's left in the families even after all these generations. There's that missing piece for those families. So providing the families with the answers, and then also bringing them home to rest in their country of origin, is the ultimate intent... For me, it is just a way of saying thank you."
Bent Prop estimates between 300 and 400 aircrafts were lost in the area. They have already recovered the wreckage of 60 planes, half of which are from the United States. The other half are said to be from Japan.
The remains of at least eight service members have been returned home since the project began 21 years ago.
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