From a mesmerizing storyteller, the gripping search for a missing World War II crew, their bomber plane, and their legacy.
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. 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.
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.
Couldn't Put It Down
"Vanished" takes you into a world of action, conflict, mystery, emotion, and discovery.
This true-to-life saga is filled with twists and turns that will convince the reader Wil Hylton is a very creative writer. But rather than "creative", (which he appears to be), the word "accurate" should be substituted. Practically every incident is documented. Mercifully, this documentation occurs at the end of the book, preserving an incredible, uninterrupted seat-of-the-pants story. World War II buffs will have a hay day with all the information and references. In the section entitled "Notes", also at the end of the book, Hylton documents his quotes, conclusions, and even assumptions as they relate to the facts, on a chapter by chapter review. For me, it was like reading another fascinating book.
My one "con" concerns Hylton's digressions. The author needed to give background to certain events and characters. Sometimes after these insights, I would feel lost as to where I might be on his timeline, or as to whose character this history intertwined.
It would not surprise me if someone in the Hollywood community has already bid on the movie rights. Although I "saw" it when I read the book, I will be one of the first to attend it's showing.
Tom Hanks, where are you?
This is an amazing book. Could not put it down.