Response to Suppressed Report Criticizing Hawaii-Based JPAC POW/MIA Effort

JPAC and MIA cases in Papua New Guinea
As many as 300 US aircraft with full crews are still missing from WWII in Papua New Guinea.  One of the highest-ranking military officers to die in combat during WWII Brigadier General Kenneth Walker, is still missing after the B-17 serial number 41-24458 named “San Antonio Rose” that he was an observer on went missing after a bomb raid on Japanese shipping in Rabaul Harbor on January 5, 1943.  Although JPAC has had much success in other recovery efforts, Walker along with the nine man crew and one other observer are still missing. 
PNG has a challenging environment for recovery efforts with thick jungles infested with malaria carrying mosquitoes.  Limited infrastructure and rugged terrain makes the task that much more daunting and expensive as helicopters are the main means of transportation into remote areas.  The PNG government and local people are amiable in regards to working with anyone who is interested in locating lost aircraft and personnel but oftentimes, the motivation is deceiving.  Expectations of large compensations in the form of humanitarian aid or excessive cash payments are implied if not demanded.
I spent 23 years living in Papua New Guinea on the island of New Britain.  For family outings we would trek the jungles and scuba dive the seas in search of WWII relics.  With PNG locals as our guides, we have seen the crash sites of seven Japanese dive bombers code-named Val and discovered another Val that was in 21 feet of water with the remains of the pilot and crew intact.  We also discovered a U.S. P-38 named Regina Coeli and visited the crash site of a U.S. B-17 named Texas #6.
We have dived on two sunken Japanese Merchant ships and scoured the Arawe battlefield with its remnants of U.S. tanks, bombs and caves full of dumped rations.  After visiting one Australian Beaufort and three Lockheed Hudson crash sites, we discovered a fourth Hudson, serial number A16-126 in 2008 that had been missing for 66 years.  We notified the Australian Embassy and within a month, four RAAF officers were dispatched to confirm the report and within five months, the site was excavated for the missing four- man crew with assistance from locals that lived in the area. No remains were found at the site although personal items for each of the crew were recovered including dog tags, rings and watches which were ceremonially returned to each of the next of kin.  Our story is told in the newly published book, “MIA: That the Lost May be Found!” by Mark J. Reichman.
In 2011, after Rod Pearce of Kokopo, PNG informed me of remains that he had discovered from an Avenger that was located in a harbor at 60 feet, I notified JPAC in Hawaii.  They promptly acted on the report which lead to the sending of the USNS Salvor to PNG in November 2012.  It is uncertain as to whether the remains were recovered. Although many are frustrated with JPAC, I was impressed with their timely response in this instance.
The Avenger is assumed by amateur historians to be a United States airplane, TBF-1 Avenger Bureau Number 24264, which was piloted by 1st Lieutenant James W. Boyden, or possibly TBF-1 Avenger Bureau Number 25316, which was piloted by 1st Lieutenant Alonzo N. Hathway, Jr. Both of those airplanes along with their three-man crews were lost on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1944, while attempting to drop aerial mines into Simpson Harbor.