"Something inside him was changed, but he couldn't place what. He had come to the islands to escape the pressure of daily life, yet he found himself overcome by an even greater sense of purpose. Somewhere nearby, young men died. They had come spiraling down in a plane with one-wing and probably died either on impact or drowned in the sea. Did anyone know? Was there a record of what happened? Had someone come to find them? Or were their remains still in the carcass of the fallen plane? And where was the plane? Did their families know? Did they even care?" - page 29
Losing a spouse, parent, child, sibling or close friend in a war can be an overwhelming, frightening and very painful experience. For the families of those missing in action, the agony of not knowing never goes away. As of 2012, the remains of more than 73000 American military personnel declared missing in action in World War II still have not been recovered. Missing for over six and a half decades, they have now been mostly forgotten. Tommy Doyle was just 15 months old when his dad Jimmie shipped off for war in 1944. Jimmie wound up in the South Pacific and on September 1, 1944 his plane was shot down by the Japanese on a chain of islands called Palau. Jimmie Doyle was officially listed as MIA. As he was growing up Tommy's mom Myrle just never talked about it. Evidently the pain was too much for her to bear. And there were rumors..... Pat Scannon was looking to add a bit of adventure to his rather dull life when he signed on to be a part of a scuba expedition looking for a sunken Japanese ship back in 1993. While in Palau he happened upon the wing of a fallen American World War II aircraft. It was a moment that would change his life forever. After doing extensive research Scannon was able to determine that the wreckage was that of a B-24 Liberator. The Army Air Force had flown Liberators over Palau at several points during the war but most notably in the late summer of 1944. He learned that a total of 3 Liberator planes had been shot down in that area. One of the three had been piloted by a man named Jack Arnett. Coincidentally, this was the very plane that Tommy Doyle's dad had been on. Over the next 20 years Scannon would seek to discover just what happened to that plane and so many others others like it that had long been forgotten. Wil S. Hylton has chronicled this unforgettable story in his new informative and highly entertaining new book "Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II". Mr. Hylton hooked me in the opening chapter. I simply could not put this one down.
The story that unfolds in "Vanished" primarily revolves around the lives of Tommy Doyle and Pat Scannon. But over the years a number of other dedicated people would become involved in the heroic mission to uncover just what became of the brave airmen who lost their lives in that remote portion of the South Pacific so many decades ago. Much to Scannon's surprise the families of the missing men still wanted and needed to know. You will meet anthropologist Eric Emery who in 2008 led a group of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines on a six week expedition to recover whatever they could find in the shallow waters around Palau. Finally, the U.S. government had gotten serious about learning what had happened to these long lost souls. In 2003, something called the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) had been established. The mission of this joint military task force was to account for those brave Americans who were listed as Prisoners Of War (POW) or Missing In Action (MIA) from all past wars and conflicts. As a key player in this unit, Emery was bound and determined to bring some kind of closure to as many of these families as possible. You will also learn how the lives of Tommy Doyle and Pat Scannon would become forever intertwined after a story about Scannon's mission in Palau appeared in Parade magazine back in 2000.
In my opinion, "Vanished: The Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II" is a book that will appeal to a wide variety of audiences. This is a well-written and very informative book. I am ashamed to admit that I had read precious little about what went down in the Pacific theater during World War II. I learned an awful lot and thoroughly enjoyed this book. Very highly recommended!
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About the reviewer
Paul Tognetti (drifter51)
I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more