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Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War IIby Wil S. Hylton
Synopses & Reviews
From a mesmerizing storyteller, the gripping search for a missing World War II crew, their bomber plane, and their legacy.
On September 1, 1944, a massive American bomber carrying eleven men vanished over the tiny Pacific archipelago of Palau, leaving behind a trail of mysteries.
For more than sixty years, the U.S. government, the children of the missing airmen, and a maverick team of scientists and scuba divers searched the archipelago for clues with cutting-edge technology and unyielding determination. They crawled through thickets of mangrove and slogged into groves of poison trees, flew over the islands in private planes shooting infrared photography, trolled the water with magnetometers and side-scan sonar, and launched grid searches on the seafloor, but the trail seemed to lead nowhere. Now, in a spellbinding narrative, Wil S. Hylton weaves together the true tale of the missing men, their final days, the loved ones left wondering, and the broad sweep of world events that converged upon their last mission.
With more than 56,000 troops still missing, the Pacific theater of World War II accounts for two-thirds of all American MIAs over the past century. These soldiers have never been seen again. But our government has never stopped trying to find them, and for two generations, their families have passed down the wounds of war, unable to find closure in a story without an ending. This is the story of those missing soldiers, the families they left behind, and the legion of scientists, explorers, archeologists, and deep-sea divers who offered everything to finally give their story an ending.
"Journalist Hylton highlights the efforts to find missing American military personnel lost during WWII in the Pacific theater. The focus of the story is Dr. Pat Scannon, an M.D. with a doctorate in chemistry who became fascinated with the wreckage of American military aircraft while on a 1993 diving expedition in the Republic of Palau. The book follows Scannon as he establishes the Bentprop project and leads repeated private expeditions to Palau to search for the crash sites of the missing aircraft. One aircraft, a WWII bomber, becomes his obsession, and Hylton's story traces Scannon's decade-long quest to find it while highlighting many different and important aspects of the search for America's lost military personnel and recreating the lives, training, and combat experience of the young crewmen who manned the lost aircraft. Hylton also describes the physiological and emotional impact that MIA status has on the surviving families of the lost men, and he details the extensive research necessary to locate the remains of the aircraft; the active role of the military's Joint MIA/POW Accounting Command; and the patience and time necessary to achieve success. It's a well-told story of WWII heroism and tragedy that demonstrates that the missing are not forgotten." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In the fall of 1944, a massive American bomber carrying eleven men vanished over the Pacific islands of Palau, leaving a trail of mysteries. According to mission reports from the Army Air Forces, the plane crashed in shallow water — but when investigators went to find it, the wreckage wasn't there. Witnesses saw the crew parachute to safety, yet the airmen were never seen again. Some of their relatives whispered that they had returned to the United States in secret and lived in hiding. But they never explained why.
For sixty years, the U.S. government, the children of the missing airmen, and a maverick team of scientists and scuba divers searched the islands for clues. They trolled the water with side-scan sonar, conducted grid searches on the seafloor, crawled through thickets of mangrove and poison trees, and flew over the islands in small planes to shoot infrared photography. With every clue they found, the mystery only deepened.
Now, in a spellbinding narrative, Wil S. Hylton weaves together the true story of the missing men, their final mission, the families they left behind, and the real reason their disappearance remained shrouded in secrecy for so long. This is a story of love, loss, sacrifice, and faith — of the undying hope among the families of the missing, and the relentless determination of scientists, explorers, archaeologists, and deep-sea divers to solve one of the enduring mysteries of World War II.
About the Author
Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine. His award-winning stories have appeared in many national magazines, including Harpers, Esquire, GQ, and Rolling Stone, and have been chosen for the books The Best American Political Writing, Best Music Writing, and The Best Business Stories of the Year. He teaches creative nonfiction in the Masters in Writing program at Johns Hopkins University. Vanished is his first book.
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