Navy investigating WWII Helldiver wreckage UPDATE

WW II-era Curtiss SB2C Helldiver found by loggers


March 30, 2010

The U.S. Navy is leading an investigation into the wreckage of a World War II-era Curtiss SB2C Helldiver found by loggers working near Rockaway Beach in Oregon on March 18.

Debris was found in a heavily wooded area about 20 miles southeast of the Naval Air Station Tillamook. Tillamook was decommissioned in 1948. Authorities have found two reports of planes going down in the area in 1945, and a third in 1948.

Wreckage was found spread over about 200 yards and included parts of the plane’s wing, tail section and engine. Other wreckage had been melted from heat, or buried from impact. Local officials and Navy personnel soon secured the area.

The U.S. Navy is leading the investigation with the aid of the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) and state and local authorities. They are looking into the plane’s identify as well as those of its missing crewmembers. Typically, the Helldiver would have carried a pilot and a radio operator-gunner.

UPDATE:
April 7, 2010
The story of a World War II era Curtiss Helldiver found in a heavily wooded area of Oregon last month has taken a new twist. Local residents have reported to the local Headlight Herald that they believe the plane has simply been rediscovered.

Carrol Spicer of Everett, Wash., told the newspaper, "I saw that World War II plane wreckage some 30 years ago. There was an air of sanctity and secrecy about it even then."

Others have come forward with similar stories, including Alvin Boese of Portland who said he remembers a Helldiver crashing during the time he was working at the Naval Air Station Tillamook in 1948. "I’m sure that’s the one they’ve found," he said.

Investigators last week located and removed from the plane wreckage two metal plates containing serial numbers. They were submitted to the Navy to help identify the plane’s origins. Authorities have warned the public to steer clear of the crash site until an investigation is complete. That investigation will determine if any human remains are at the site.

An article that appeared in the April 1, 1948 Headlight-Herald was headlined ‘Navy pilot dies in crash’. It reported the March 31 crash of a Navy plane in a heavily wooded area. The body of Chief Aviation Pilot Robert Smedley, 35, was recovered from the scene soon after the crash.


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