Archive for the ‘The Exhibit’ Category

Quick Question…

The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Feb 18 2011

What makes you want to visit a museum, or return to a museum? I’m putting together a proposal about the USS Flier, but I need some help. So I’m asking for feedback.

What sort of thing makes you want to go see a museum, or return to it?

Is it interactive exhibits?
Interesting stories?
Getting to see items from these stories?
Seeing, hearing, experiencing the same things the people involved would have?
Having something different to experience each time?

What would you like to see in an exhibit about USS Flier? Or WWII submarines?

I want this story to honor the men who gave their all in WWII, those who incredibly made it back to safety to record where these men went down, but also make it interesting and really connect this time and these people to a new generation. So please, I’d love to see your comments.

If you’d rather not comment, you can e-mail me at ussflierproject@gmail.com

Thanks so much!

Postcard from the Dead

The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Dec 04 2010

Flier is still sitting in Coco Solo waiting for the pilot to take her through the canal, and the men are thoroughly enjoying Panama.  How much are they enjoying it?  Dunno, but we know they behaved well enough that there was no official record of it.  In fact, today’s deck log is dull.  I’m not going to bother post the actual log.  It’s that boring.  I included the transcript below.

——————————-

Saturday, 4 December 1943

Pg. 48

Zone Description +5

0000-0800

Moored starboard side to another submarine on west side of Pier A NO.B (or NO. 13) COCA SOLA C.Z. 0545  Moored startboard side Pier A

J.W. Liddell, Lt. USNR

0800-2400

Moored as before.

——————————-

While on liberty, the men of the Flier were free to send letters for the first time for days, but this included more intrigues.  All letters sent by military men had to be read and censored before they were permitted to be mailed home.

Flier’s radioman, Walter “Bud” Klock, had been in the Navy since 1938.  In the first few years , he wrote home frequently, informing his mother of the cities he was stationed in, the name of the submarines he was posted on, the places he visited.  But following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the beginning of letter censorship, Klock started telling his mom that he was in that place where it was never winter (Hawaii) or he was assigned again to the first place he was right after boot camp (San Diego) or that his first real boat had been lost at sea. (USS ARGONAUT).  At times, when he heard of a military man heading home on leave, he would write a letter in plain language and give it to the guy leaving for him to mail from a civilian mailbox once home (where it wouldn’t be pre-read).  Klock never said anything that would have been considered treasonous, but it was easier to talk plainly to his mom when he got the chance.

It became a game of cat and mouse with the censors who were, of course, looking for any information that might tell and enemy when and were a ship had been or might pass through.  Sailors had to resort to codes, or shared memories of the recipient to relay where they were and what they were doing.  Since the return address was always the boat, and the postmark was always Honolulu or San Diego for a Pacific sailor, that didn’t help either.  Things got quite creative.

It might be the fact that a postcard from another Flier man, Oliver Kisamore, clearly showed the Panama Canal that caused its hold up.

This card is intriguing and a little creepy.

The front is simple enough.  It’s a colorized engraving of the USS Pennsylvania as she crossed the Gatun Locks.

This might be Pennsylvania’s 1937 crossing, but there’s no date marked on the card.  The back of the card is a piece of stationary, flipped over and taped to the back of the card. Oliver Kisamore, a Motor Mac from Andover Ohio, wrote a quick note to his father:  “Dear Folks:  Just a few lines to let you know I am O.K. Hope you fellows are too.  Is it ever warm here.  I’m pulling out soon.  I’ll write you when I reach my next destination.”  Love  [rest of name cut off]

Seems rather innocuous, and Kisamore mailed it from the Cristobal Post Office in the Canal Zone, and likely never thought about it again.  The Cristobal Post Office postmarked it “December 4, 9 30 AM, 1943, CRISTOBAL CANAL ZONE” and passed it on to the censors to pass inspection before they released it to the civilian postal service.

This is actually the Christobal post office that Kisamore mailed this postcard from.

But for whatever reason,( maybe it fell on the floor, or the censor thought the picture and description revealed too much information, who knows?) the postcard was not passed into civilian postal service, and it wasn’t delivered in 1943.  Or 1944.

There are two more clues on this card:  In the upper left edge there is a faint blueish stamp: “Released by O.N.I”  .  O.N.I. in this case, is most likely “Office of Naval Intelligence”, the department responsible for the search and censure of all communications between military and civilians.  Below it, is the date of the release:  Sep 4-1945.

Two days after Japanese representatives signed the surrender of Japan on the deck of USS Missouri.

And Kisamore had been dead for over a year.

I can’t even imagine how his family felt, seeing this last missive from their son in his handwriting so long after they had been informed of his death aboard the Flier thousands of miles away somewhere in the Pacific.

But today, sixty-seven years ago, Oliver Kisamore mailed what would become his last letter home.

My thanks to the families of Oliver Kisamore and Walter “Bud” Klock for sharing their family’s letters to help flesh out the story of the Flier for a new generation.  We’re still looking for photos and other letters from  Flier men, if you are interested in donating them for the purposes of research, preservation and education here on this site, for the Flier exhibit at the Great Lakes Naval Memorial and Museum.  If your family would rather hang on to the original letters, I happily accept digital scans or photographs of the originals, or am more than willing to receive originals, photograph them and return them.

The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Nov 01 2010

Been an interesting time.

A couple of days ago, the family of Bob Klock, radioman of the Flier, mailed me their uncle’s letters from WWII (and even before!) detailing his time in the submarine force.  It appears that he and Crowley served on the USS S-28 together and bother transferred to the Flier.  Even more fascinating, some of these letters from the S-28 are dated before December 7, 1941.  I’m reading one right now, dated October 20, 1941:

“I don’t know if I’ll get any leave ot not–I’m trying my best.  Maybe around Christmas they’ll give me some.  If so, I’ll be home then–but don’t plan on it very much.  It is pretty hard to get leave off a submarine because we have so few men.”

How many things will change all too soon for this man.  The above letter was sent from San Diego on official S-28 stationary.  At that time, she was part of Experimental Group 2. The ones from the S-28 group span 1940-1942.  As you get older, the censor marks appear, indicating that “Bud’s” letter was opened, read, and passed as not revealing information that could be too sensitive.

This letter is dated December8, 1942, from the S-18  (so he must have changed submarines between October and December.)  Please remember the Bud is his mother’s older son, and she is, from what I can glean from the few letters I’ve fully read, a widow with her Navy son as the family supporter, so if it sounds almost like a letter to a spouse, that is why.

“The world has finally been thrown into a fiery chaos.  I know, darling, that I haven’t been a real good son, but, Mom, I’ll write as often as possible now.  I know you are going to worry but please try to keep it down to a minimum.

“If, by some  misfortune, the West Coast even gets bombed, I wonder if I coudl send Louise [note from me: his girlfriend at this time] home to stay with you.  In that way my mind would somewhat be relieved.  We are certainly getting along fine these days.

“Hope you aren’t working too hard, but then I guess work will keep one’s mind off of other things.  Say hello to Mr. Smith and the gang and tell them we’ll really give them hell.  If Bob [note:  his younger brother] has to come in tell him to try to get a commission in the army or navy (reserve).  I hope he won’t have to, though.

“I don’t know if this letter will reach you because of the censorship but I hope so.

“Now you be a good girl and don’t you dare worry to [sic] much because everything is okay.  Don’t believe too much you hear on the radio.  Hope you, Bobm and grandma are in the best of health.”

Your Loving Son, Bud.”

This letter was eventually passed by the censor and mailed on December 27.  I can only imagine his mother, Violet, was immensely relieved to finally hear from her oldest son.

So sad, reading these letters, knowing that Bud only has a little over two and a half years left.  His photo on ussflier.com is one of my favorites.  I wonder if that is Louise…

It’s strange, looking at these letters.  Klock served on the Argonaut, the S-28,, and the Flier, all of which were eventually lost.  He also apparently served on the S-18, which not only survived, but had no casualties.

Back to the deck log of the Flier,

She stayed out to sea with “No Administrative remarks” until October 31, around 4 pm.  So I included the Deck Log for October 31 and November 1 in today’s entry.

Deck Log for October 31, 1943. Flier returned from wherever she went and tied up to the dock at Electric Boat.

The Deck Log for November 1, 1943. HERE'S an interesting tidbit! Flier named temporary flagship of Sub Division 162 by Commander Burlingame was the CO of the Sub Division. If you happened to come to the Memorial Service, this little note is even more interesting, because Burlingame, (who looked a lot like the Gordon's Fisherman when at sea) was the commissioning CO of USS Silversides, the submarine that stood for Flier at the ceremony.

So thank you to the Klock family for opening this window into the world of Flier and indeed, the Submarine service of WWII on a personal level.  If you are interested in donating material for the eventual exhibit or for future researchers, please contact me a ussflierproject@gmail.com  We don’t have to keep things permanently.  Once these items have been digitized and cataloged, they’ll be returned to the Klock family, and I can do the same for any other Flier (or Silversides) family.

Women on Submarines and Today’s Deck Log

And now for something completely different..., Memorial Ceremony, The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 26 2010

One of the things that most submariners I’ve met have stressed is the fact that they are all one brotherhood.  Granted, the diesel vets enjoy yanking the chains of the nuc vets every so often  “You think it’s rough?  Back in my day…”

But it’s now official: the brotherhood is about to include some sisters whose names don’t begin with “USS”.  The four boats who will carry the teams of women have been chosen, and the women themselves are currently in training.  Their identities are being withheld for now, most likely to allow them to concentrate on their training which would be a lot harder with journalists constantly taking photos and yelling questions every time they dared walk outside.

During the Flier Memorial, I enjoyed talking to two high ranking submariners both of whom are enthusiastic about the prospect of women serving on submarines.  Integrating officers will be easier to accomplish than enlisted, and indeed, right now the Navy has not announced when or if they will integrate the enlisted ranks of the submarine corp (I’m all for all-women crews, an idea floated back in 2007, allows women to serve and eliminates the need for retro-fitting the submarines themselves to accommodate integrated crew–and save us taxpayers about $100 million per sub retrofit)

For more on the subject, see my previous posts about the history of women serving in the military, and women on submarines worldwide as well as this article, released just a few days ago.  (I do try to be fair to both sides, and I myself am on the fence:  I hate, as a woman, being told I cannot do something because I am a woman, but on the other hand, if it ain’t broke…)

USS Flier today is still somewhere off the coast of New England and has no administrative remarks today  (had to use a mimeographed page…)

Finally, I have an announcement and a request.

The announcement is I’m hearing from people who  missed the memorial ceremony and are disappointed that they couldn’t get there.  Well, I put the footage at the end of the Memorial Page on this site, so you don’t have to go looking for it in the backlogs of the blog any longer.

The request: As we’re getting ready to design the exhibit, we’re looking for items that will help bring these men to life for a new generation that’s four generations removed from WWII.  If your Flier family member sent home letters or photos from their time in the Pacific theater, would you consider allowing us to use them for the exhibit or research?  I cannot promise that everything donated will be used, but the more we have to use, the better we will be able to bring these men to life.

The beauty about what we do means that we don’t even need original letters or photos–the information and images of these items will be good enough for what we’re doing.  If you want to send originals for me to scan and I will send the originals back once they’ve been digitized(one family is already choosing this option) or scanning the items yourselves and sending me jpgs or tifs (another family is doing this).  If, of course, your family would be comfortable with donating the letters, we will keep them for future researchers.  These items will help bring these men out of the shadows and making them more than photos on a wall, but men who had girlfriends, wives, dreams, cars, jokes, senses of adventure and fear, and men who did what they felt were right.

If this is something you think you or your family would be interested in, please contact me at ussflierproject@gmail.com  Thank you.

BREAKING: DIVE DETECTIVES TO BE SHOWN IN USA!!!! (Plus: News from the Museum)

And now for something completely different..., The Exhibit, Where was Flier 66 years ago today? | Posted by Rebekah
Oct 19 2010

We interrupt my blog post I’ve been desperately trying to put together for the last few days to announce that YES!!!!  YES! YES! YES!!!!  Dive Detectives will FINALLY be coming to the USA.  Dunno when, dunno on what station, but YAP Films announced on their site (not the Dive Detectives site if you’ve been checking there) that the series has been purchased by an American broadcaster and will be shown later this year!!!!

WOOOO   HOOOO!!!!!

And now back to that blog post I’ve been working on…

So I’ve been off the reservation for several days now.  Vacation was fun, but of course, when you bring the children, there’s a limit to the fun to be had.  I’m starting to understand the various veins and twitches I saw in my parent’s faces while growing up.  Goodbye sitting in the sun for hours blissfully reading or dozing, hello panicked dashing after children convinced that plugging a fork into an electric socket would be fun.

Oh well, it was a fun time.   Back to some updates…

The interview with James Alls is, if all goes according to plan, this weekend in New Castle, Indiana, the hometown of Flier Chief Kenneth Gwinn. Gwinn’s parents owned a diner that I hope is still in business.  If you have a question you’d like to ask Mr. Alls, be sure to comment or e-mail me at ussflierproject@gmail.com  I can’t promise we’ll get to it, but I’ll sure try.  I’ve already got questions about how the Flier was decorated, if they had any pets, did some sailors think Flier was unlucky (survivor Earl Baumgart later claimed he thought she was from day one), if they had any Crossing of the Line Ceremonies,  and on.  If you’re curious about anything, be sure to ask.  I will be filming, audio recording the session and if he gives permission, will be posting excerpts here and on YouTube.

The museum is (tentatively) hoping to open the exhibit this summer. Everything, of course, depends on money, time and schedule, but winter is our best time to build something like this: we’re less busy.

Now, since the Flier story is almost over, I thought we could do something interesting on here for the next while.  I’ll be delving into the stories of some of the Lost Submarines, but in addition, courtesy of Lt. Liddell, his son Kirk, and the National Archives, I have the complete Deck Logs and War Patrol Logs of the USS Flier (of course, the ones about the second patrol were lost in the sinking.)  They’re an interesting read, and I thought we’d start here on the 18th and 19th of October: the day Flier was commissioned into service, and started taking on food.  (There’s an eye opener!)

This is the record of Flier's first day as a Naval boat. The names of all the commissioning crew are written here: Officers first, by rank, the Enlisted alphabetically by last name.It's amazing how many of these men would still be around in ten months for the second patrol, and which ones wouldn't be. There is a second page for this day, but all it says is: "2200: (hours, or 10 pm): Finished Fueling. Received 50,138 gallons on board." You can click on the image to get a MUCH larger one if you're curious about reading it.

This is the record for the following day, when they started to take on stores while still testing systems at the dock. That's a lot of food, and that list will only get longer, not to mention all the stuff they'll unofficially get their hands on if the Fliers were like some of the other boats I've been told about! Then, as newest boat in the fleet, she was toured by some of the top commanders, including Admiral Daubin. (See Entry for 1300 hours). Interesting, since eleven months from this date, he would be investigating the same CO that's giving the tour of Flier, over the loss of this same boat and crew.

Tomorrow, I’ll post the photos taken of the Commissioning parties.  If you see someone you recognize in them, comment or e-mail, that’s what we’re trying to do, identify people, and tell this story.

Important Update

The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Sep 18 2010

Most of you who were at the Memorial Service and especially those who weren’t, I have an update for you.

Many of you have heard the story of James Alls, commissioning member of Flier’s crew, who was aboard from the day she was commissioned as a US Naval Submarine in New London Connecticut, traveled through the Panama Canal, suffered the grounding at Midway, went on the complete patrol, and was ABSENT for the doomed second patrol.  The night before (or two nights before, I’ll be sure to get the full story) Mr. Alls got in a bar fight in Fremantle, and was hit in the jaw with a bottle, breaking it (the jaw, jury’s out on the bottle, not that it matters).

An injury so serious grounded Mr. Alls in the hospital in Fremantle, and the Navy assigned another man  to take his place on the Flier. Mr. Alls hoped that he would be re-assigned to Flier when she returned, since everyone aboard was so close to one another.

And of course, Flier never did return.

Mr. Alls, like the other survivors, questioned why he survived, and felt incredibly guilty that he wasn’t there with his friends who were like family the moment that it happened.  It haunted him for years.

But then the Flier was found, and Mr. Alls decided to make the trek from Kentucky to Michigan to memorialize his lost crewmembers, and throw a rose into the water for Fireman Donald See, the man who took his place.

The memories of these men, their personalities and stories, are still vivid in Mr. Alls’s memory and at that service, he was able to give the gift of introducing relatives of these long-lost men to those whose lives remain forever frozen in 1944.  In the words of a nice of Joe Kucinski (who apparently, everyone called “Ski!”) “Mr. Alls gave me my uncle back.  I never knew him before, but I feel I know him now through the stories [Mr. Alls] told me.”

I’m posting today the fact that Mr. Alls and I have tentatively arranged to meet for an extensive interview sometime in the next eight weeks in an undisclosed location.  (all this hinging on arrangements still being settled, hence the “secrecy”.)

So if you have a question you’d like me to ask Mr. Alls, e-mail me at ussflierproject@gmail.com.  I can’t promise that it will get asked, but I will certainly try.  I hope to continue to talk to and correspond with Mr. Alls for as long as possible, so if I can’t ask it during this first interview, hopefully I can soon.

I will be filming and recording this too, so if all goes really, REALLY well, I’ll try to post segments of the interviews here for everyone to see.  How’s that for exciting?

I know I’m excited.  Some of his information has been really enlightening.  It’s going to add some details to the book and definitly force a re-write of a couple of places.

For more about Jim Alls and the short interview he did for the Grand Haven Tribune,click here.  And see below.

Jim Alls remembers the U.S.S. Flier

More Exhibit things

Lost Subs, Memorial Ceremony, The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Jul 21 2010

Well, one day closer to the memorial weekend, and if you need a hotel and haven’t gotten around to it yet, you might want to move.  In addition to the Holiday Inn, the museum also has some rooms at Shoreline Inn across the street. Depending on the room, both hotels have views of Muskegon Lake, and are within walking distance of the Frauenthal Theater, the Hackley and Hume Homes, Hackley Park, and LST-393 Museum (for another taste of WWII Naval History, this time, the European Theater!) plus a number of small independent stores and restaurants.   (Walking distance here being defined as within a mile)  My favorite food store in the whole world is only about a mile and a half away from those hotels too. Be careful if you visit, it’s ADDICTING.

I understand that the episode of Dive Detectives is beautiful and haunting,or at least, so I’m told.  The staff at the museum decided to run the movie completely through their system so they could get a replacement copy in time if there was a problem or glitch, and wouldn’t you know it, none of them seemed to have anything else to do while the test was running!  Some of you don’t know this, but I’m an independent contractor for the museum, and actually live about five hours away by car, so I haven’t seen it yet either!   AAArrghh!  But they said it was a beautiful film, very well done, so hopefully, we’ll all like it.

Here you see the scale depths of the five submarine wrecks discovered since 2005, as well as an overhead silhouette of a WWII-era submarine done to the same scale. (The triangles representing the wrecks are not to scale, but the depths are) All of these wrecks with the exception of the Grunion were explored using human divers.

One of the biggest problems they had in filming was the depth of the Flier herself.  Of the five submarines discovered since 2005, Flier is the deepest except for the Grunion.  She is, in fact, at the very edges to human endurance using SCUBA gear underwater.  For every dive aboard the Flier, which was three hours long, the divers were only able to take ten minutes on the Flier herself, so while they apparently did an amazing job filming, they were still limited to short takes and quick passes, since they had to document as quickly as they could.  If permission is granted later for a more thorough survey of the submarine, it would likely be done by ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) since they don’t have to take the precautions human divers do.

That being said, it is still, apparently, amazing.  If we weren’t down to one car now, I’d be half tempted to drive the 10-hour round trip to see it!

I’m finishing up the memorial booklet now.  I ended up doing the covers, Flier’s Story pages and the Flier’s crew page.  I finished everything except for the crew page, which is in the final stages right now.  (It’s really difficult to fit 79 men on two pages!) I hope everyone likes it, but you now know who to blame if you don’t!

As soon as this is done, I have to update some pages and work on the permanent exhibit layout.  Whew!  This is so going to be worth it!

Just a quick update…

Memorial Ceremony, The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 19 2010

Snatching a few moments just now to update all of you Flier watchers out there…

After a meeting yesterday, we have some details about the Flier ceremony and the temporary exhibit which we’ll put up in time for the ceremony, and the future permanent exhibit.

If you are planning on coming to the festivities that weekend and you need a place to stay, the museum has reserved 70 rooms at the Holiday Inn downtown for Flier families.  Just mention that you are part of the group.  Don’t wait to reserve your spot, since Muskegon is a tourist town, AND that weekend is the Unity Christian Music Festival, and the hotels are telling us they are expecting to be full that weekend shortly.  If you find that place is full, give me or the museum folks a ring and we can see if we can help you locate another museum or bed and breakfast nearby.

While the memorial ceremony at 11 am on Friday August 13 is open to the public, if you are attending the entire weekend, you will need to register.  All those Flier family members should have received their packets by now.  If you haven’t, let us know and we’ll get them to you.

Between time and financial constraints, the permanent Flier exhibit will not be ready in time, we’re so sorry.  Since it won’t be ready in time, we have opted to not start it during the summer, which is our busiest season.  We do, however, have a traveling exhibit area prepped and ready and will be putting together an exhibit there.  In a way, it’s better, since we’ll be posting more of the original work than we otherwise normally would.  Since these items will come down and go into storage later,  delicate objects that shouldn’t be out in the light for long CAN be put on display here for the temporary exhibit.

Weather permitting, the ceremony will take place on the deck of the Silversides, Flier’s sister, where we will read each man’s name and then ring the bell in their honor, while throwing a flower into the water.  When it’s done, Silversides is surrounded by a cloud of flowers, it’s really quite striking.  The Navy is sending someone to make the address, but who this person is has not been announced yet.  (According to an inside source, this person won’t be announced until about a month before the ceremony.)

For those who have been wanting to see the film about the finding of Flier’s wreck, a copy of it IS scheduled to come and debut during that day.   From what I’ve been told, the rights to the film in the USA are still in question because they are still working on signing with a distributer for the whole six-part series.  There WILL NOT be copies for sale (due to the above-mentioned reason), but it will be shown.  Since we’re expecting about 200 people for the ceremony and our theater only seats 72, we’ll be running it all day.

The future exhibit will be located on the second floor of museum and is currently planned to have a place to show the Dive Detectives documentary, as well as some interactive exhibits.  The location and size of the exhibit changed recently, which means I’m re-drawing what it will look like, so take the images on the “Exhibits” page with a grain of salt.

And finally, my book will also debut that weekend!  If you’ve been interested to read more of the Flier’s story, you’ll have the opportunity.

I’ll try to post later this afternoon about what Flier’s up to today, and some interesting information I discovered about the last time USS Crevalle crossed Balabac Straits.  Why does it matter?  Because the Navy gave the path Crevalle took through Balabac to the Flier to help them navigate safely through, but there were some interesting quirks about that path…

The Map

Lost Subs, The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 14 2010

I am looking at the most extraordinary nautical chart today.

Over the weekend, I visited with the Jacobson family, and one of the items they allowed me to borrow was a chart of the Balabac Straits.  This, on its own,  would be interesting enough, but thanks to both Al Jacobson’s son, and Jim Liddell’s son, this chart is extraordinary.

From what I have been able to find out, after the Flier survivors reached the States, they went home to their families then on to their new assignments.  With the exception of Cmdr. Crowley and Lt. Liddell who were stationed together on USS Irex and remained close friends after the military, the survivors lost contact with one another.

But in 1994, with the help of Dr. Elaine Foster who located all eight Flier Survivors, they decided to meet together at Cmdr. Crowley’s home in Baltimore.  Only Crowley, Liddell, Jacobson, Miller and Russo were able to make it.

It was in a video recording of that meeting that I first saw this chart.  Lt. Liddell’s son came with his father, and recorded as the men pinned this chart up on the wall in Cmdr. Crowley’s living room and talked about where they had gone down and where they had swum.

In 1944, Cmdr. Crowley had to guess where the Flier went down, and he guessed “Comiran Island bearing 190 degrees T at 6700 yards”.  That bearing put the location of the sinking at 7 degrees, 58 minutes, 45 seconds North Latitude and 117 degrees, 13 minutes, 10 seconds East Longitude.  I marked that position below.

Now, the men also debated whether they swam in a straight line to the islands ans even which islands they landed on.  During WWII, Crowley decided that they must have landed on Mantangule, which you can see above, but Al, after studying the maps, was more inclined to believe that they landed on Byan, the tiny speck of green to the left of Mantangule.

They debated this for a while, and decided that the sinking position was correct, though they did land on Byan, not Mantangule, and probably either swam around the Roughton Reefs in the current, or swam between them.

It was a fascinating bit of video to watch.

In 1998, Al decided he wanted to go back to that area in the Philippines and see the places he didn’t mean to pass through in 1944. While there, he took this same chart along with him, and traced the route that he took in visiting his old haunts.  I can follow his 1998 boat coming down the eastern side of Palawan, passing within photo distance of Cape Baliluyan (where he met up with a guerilla outpost) snaking through the reefs until he made it to Comiran Island where they spotted the light that the lookouts on Flier saw moments before she went down, to the spot where she went down, back to Byan Island and Bugsuk Island, then back up the eastern coast of Palawan.  I also have the photos from this trip, which is helping me get a sense of what happened.  I’ll see if I can get permission to post them.

The most interesting thing to me is when Al got to the accepted coordinates of Flier’s sinking, he decided the surroundings didn’t match his memory from that night.  See, Al wasn’t watching the stern of Flier just before the mine hit, he was admiring the surrounding scenery.  It was, to his dying day, one of the most beautiful this he had ever seen.

So he asked the captain of his charter boat to keep moving until the scenery matched.  When it did, he marked it on the chart, but also recorded the GPS coordinates of it.  It was south(ish) of the accepted WWII estimate by more than a mile.

Al hoped someday that he could come back with professional gear and divers to look, but his health did not permit it.  When the Dive Detectives came calling after Al passed on, this chart was one of the things that they were given in the hope that the wreck could be found.

Al was always known for his thoroughness in his research and planning.  I wonder if he knew just how closely he had nailed the location.  From what I’ve been told,  when the Dive Detectives ship dropped the weighted sandbags down on the 1998 coordinates, they landed on the Flier herself.

Provided the Navy does not object to the display of this chart (they’re a little touchy about revealing the locations of their wrecks for security reasons) this map will hopefully make it into the exhibit.

Book, Exhibit, and more

The Book, The Exhibit | Posted by Rebekah
Jun 02 2010

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to update anyone about the book or exhibit or memorial service.

The memorial service will take place around the 13th, though I have yet to get a solid answer and when the public service will be.  I will be meeting with people next week who hopefully can answer those questions and I can get that stuff nailed down.  So to those of you who have contacted me recently asking for more details about the memorial service, I’m not ignoring you.  I just know about as much as you do.

The book is progressing nicely.  ISBN numbers and all that, so it will appear on Amazon when the time comes.  My editors will hopefully get back to me soon (I’m meeting with a couple in a few days  with one, and another one has been in contact with me.  Each is helping me with different aspects of the book) and I’ll start the final pass on the manuscript.  Still tinkering with the cover, but I’m at a point now that the book size has to be chosen before I can go much further.  Another thing that will be set in a week.  We’re still on track though.

I was recently loaned a copy of Flier’s Deck Log which starts on the day of her commissioning  to just two days short of her arrival in Fremantle after her first full War Patrol.  The deck log following this one likely went down with the Flier.  What’s  really interesting what is different between this and the War Patrol Report.  The Deck Log, when Flier is underway, lists everything that happens during a 4 hour time period every day.  0000-0400 hours (midnight to 4 am) 0400-0800 hours (4 am to 8 am) and so on.  On a boring day, the War Patrol report may list the noon Longitude an Latitude reading and nothing.  The Deck Log will start off with a statement of Underway as before on this course, at this speed, using this many engines, and then track any course change, battery charge, exercises or drills done that day, quick dives, surfaces, or personnel issue.

Conversley, the War Patrol Report, will be more detailed on days when there was an attack, though it’s obvious that the Deck Log provided some source material.  The Longitude/Latitude reports are found only in the War Patrol Report, which is where I’m getting the locations of the Flier, Redfin and Robalo, not the Deck Log.

One of the strange things about this particular Deck Log is the first six weeks are typewritten and very clearly copied.  But then, from December to April, the Deck Log is handwritten, and in places, the writing is either faint or fading, or else poorly copied.  I’m getting to know each person’s handwriting, and in fact, can identify the men from their hands.  Casey wrote lightly, and is often difficult to read, though his lettering is quite open and easy to read when it isn’t too faded.  Liddell has a strong hand, neatly legible and easily read.  Germershausen’s hand is very tight and dark, as though he pressed the page heavily.  I wonder if that was a reflection of his character (and if his name doesn’t sound familiar, that’s because he was transferred to the Sunfish on 21 March 1944, while Flier was in drydock.)

Handwriting being so personal and unique to each individual, this makes me feel closer to these men.  One thing is for sure though:  every one of these guys has better handwriting that most of us today!