Governor to Join BentProp Project to Search for Fallen Soldiers
Gov. Rick Perry will join the BentProp Project in the Republic of Palau, where he will help search for American servicemen who went missing in action (MIA) during air battles over the island nation during World War II. The governor and first lady will travel to Koror, Palau from April 5 - April 17. No tax dollars are being used for the Perrys' travel and accommodations on this trip.
"Somewhere in the waters of Palau, or deep within its marshy jungles, lie the answers some families have been waiting generations to hear," Gov. Perry said. "The BentProp Project has made a mission of finding those answers, and I'm honored to lend a hand to the 2014 expedition, both in the field, and in spreading the word about this exceptional program."
The governor and first lady will be joined by U.S. Military veterans, including World War II veteran Romus Valton "R.V." Burgin and Marcus Luttrell. As part of the expedition, Gov. Perry will assist in searching for American aircraft shot down by occupying Japanese forces during combat and air operations over the islands between 1944 and 1945. Gov. Perry will also accompany Burgin to Peleliu, where Burgin landed and fought as a U.S. Marine corporal in the Battle of Peleliu in September 1944.
The 2014 expedition team is also being joined by teams from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of Delaware and the Advanced Underwater Robotics program at Stockbridge High School in Stockbridge, Michigan.
U.S. forces saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Pacific campaign on the islands of Peleliu and Angaur in what is present-day Palau. Thousands of Americans were either wounded or killed in action during battles with heavily fortified Japanese forces on the islands of Palau.
The BentProp Project has indexed the crash sites of more than two dozen American military aircraft, and is searching for approximately 80 MIAs in the Republic of Palau. As a result of its search expeditions, the BentProp Project has helped locate and recover the remains of eight American MIAs in Palau.
In addition to the Battle of Peleliu, Burgin also fought in the battles of Cape Gloucester and Okinawa. He earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service in Okinawa. Luttrell is a former U.S. Navy SEAL and author of "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" and "Service: A Navy Seal at War." He was the sole survivor of a four-man Navy SEAL team sent on a mission in northern Afghanistan to locate a Taliban official with ties to Osama bin Laden.
In addition to participating in the BentProp Project's expedition, Gov. Perry will address a joint session of the Palau National Congress and the first lady will tour Belau National Hospital and meet with the Palau Nurses Association.
The Perrys are traveling as guests of the BentStar Project, which assists in funding the BentProp Project and Pursuit Productions, which is filming a documentary on the 2014 expedition.