Joint expedition team returns to Koge Bay, Greenland for WWII service members recovery mission

Coast Guard Headquarters News
By Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco
U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

KOGE BAY, Greenland – One year after a U.S. Coast Guard-coordinated expedition to locate the possible site of a World War II Grumman Duck J2F-4 rescue plane that disappeared with two Coast Guard rescuers and a U.S. Army Air Forces corporal, the Coast Guard has returned to Koge Bay, Greenland, to complete the mission.

Getting back onto the ice proved to be quite the challenge. For some of the crew, it only took a couple of days while others traveled as many as five days in cars, planes and helicopters to make it onto the glacier near Koge Bay.

A majority of the expedition team from 2012, including Coast Guard service members and North South Polar scientists and explorers, returned to the ice with the goal of bringing home Lt. John Pritchard Jr., Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms and Cpl. Loren Howarth.

This year, a five-person team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command joins us on the ice. JPAC, in a coordinated effort with the Coast Guard, sent a team to Greenland to oversee operations aimed at recovering the missing service members.

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Robert Tucker, from the office of aviation forces, provides an operation status and position report to U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command Center about the J2F-4 Grumman Duck mission on a glacier near Koge Bay, Greenland, Aug. 1, 2013. Tucker is the team leader for the U.S Coast Guard, who is working with the Joint POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Command and the North South Polar expedition team to locate the missing WWII aircraft. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco

U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Robert Tucker, from the office of aviation forces, provides an operation status and position report to U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Command Center about the J2F-4 Grumman Duck mission on a glacier near Koge Bay, Greenland, Aug. 1, 2013. Tucker is the team leader for the U.S Coast Guard, who is working with the Joint POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Command and the North South Polar expedition team to locate the missing WWII aircraft. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco

In efforts to locate the potential crash site identified last year, a team consisting of Jaana Gustafsson, the returning geophysicist, and Ben Fuchs, a geodetic surveyor from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, are creating a graph paper-like grid on the surface of the glacier to establish a general area for excavation.

So far this trip, the weather conditions have been favorable with spring-like temperatures and unlimited sunlight starting early in the morning and lasting late into the night hours.

There’s a lot of work that lies ahead of us, and we still have more people and equipment scheduled to arrive on the ice by ship and helicopter over the next couple of days.

Fact of the Day: The camp’s functional water source was created by using a large tarp stretched out with snow on top and the sun’s heat to melt it. The melted snow is then collected into five-gallon water jugs.

Click for photos from the expedition.

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