More than 68 years since a group of young U.S. servicemen in a B- 17E Flying Fortress crash-landed in a New Guinea swamp, the air crew’s surviving relatives, aircraft salvage team leaders and aviation historians will welcome home the fallen aircraft June 11, complete with a P-51 Mustang and P-40 Warhawk formation flyover above the Long Beach Harbor in California.
Attending the homecoming will be John Tallichet, Specialty Restaurants Corp. president and CEO, whose late father David Tallichet initiated recovery efforts in the mid-1980s and was a collector of World War II aircraft; Alfred Hagen, Aero Archaeology founder and “Swamp Ghost” salvage team leader, who has helped locate seven missing aircraft and returned more than a dozen MIA airmen to the U.S.; Linda Oliver, widow of aircraft bombardier Col. Richard Oliver, whose last wish was to see his warbird come home, and other surviving relatives of the “Swamp Ghost” air crew.
On Feb. 23, 1942, a B-17E Flying Fortress crashed in one of the most remote locations on Earth — a swamp on the north coast of Papua New Guinea — after participating in the first long-range U.S. bombing mission of World War II following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. The nine-member crew survived the ordeal, but damage from enemy gunfire and loss of fuel caused the pilot to crash-land the plane. After a harrowing six-week escape to safety, the crew returned to combat. However, for the next 64 years, the bomber, nicknamed “Swamp Ghost” slept beneath water and tall grass until it was salvaged in 2006. One of only four B-17E models ever recovered, “Swamp Ghost” will be restored, possibly to flying condition, for display at an aviation history museum in honor of America’s veterans.
For more information: AeroArchaeology.com