Navy Seeking Realtives
By Richard September 25, 2000 at 06:21:56
From the 22 September 2000 issue of the Dallas Morning News.Hope this helps someone.
Navy Seeking Relatives of Men Whose WWII Bomber Crashed
Wreckage in Russia from '44 mission
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON - Jack Parlier was itching to fly.And on the night of March 25, 1944, the 22 year old Navy weather specialist got his chance.
He took off from Alaska's Attu Island, at the westernmost tip of the Aleutian chain, aboard a Ventura PV-1 patrol bomber whose mission was to fly east through the darkness to Japan's northern Kuril Islands, bomb the target and return to Casco Field on Attu.
"He took off, and he never came back," recalled Paul Carrigan, a retired Navy weatherman.
The dark of night mission, flown repeatedly in the final two years of World War II to tie down a portion of the Japanese air force, became known as the Empire Express, and the men who flew it were called "bats."
Mr. Parlier's job was to chart weather formations along the route, where storms were so hazardous that only one of the five aircraft from Mr. Parlier's squadron completed the mission that night.Of the other four, one crashed shortly after takeoff from Attu, two failed to reach the target and had to turn back, and Mr. Parlier's vanished.
It was not until a Russian historian, Alla Paperno, told U.S. officials last year that wreckage of an American bomber had been found that the mystery began to unravel.
Last month, U.S. officials traveled to the crash site on the slope of a volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Penninsula and confirmed that the wreckage was Mr. Parlier's plane.
The Navy is trying to find relatives of Mr. Parlier and the six other crewmen.So far the Navy has been contacted by family members of two of the crewmen: co-pilot Lt. John W. Hanlon Jr. of Worcester, Mass., and mechanic Donald Graham Lewallen of Omaha, Neb.
Searches have failed to turn up relatives of Mr. Parlier; the pilot, Lt. Walter S. Whitman of Philadelphia; and three enlisted men: Samuel Leslie Crown Jr. of Columbus, Ohio; Clarence Crome Fridley of Manhattan, Mont., and James Stephen Palko of Superior, Wis.
Relatives of these missing servicemen can call the Navy Casualty Office at 1-800-443-9298.