Homecoming of a WWII US Navy Corsair

Posted on March 22nd, 2016 by:

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Homecoming of a WWII US Navy Corsair:

On March 18th, 1945 nineteen F4U Corsairs from Fighter Squadron 10 took off the from the USS Intrepid to bomb a naval base on the island of Kyushu, Japan. The mission was part of a plan to destroy Japanese air power in the South of Japan before the US invasion of Okinawa. The mission was a success, but two Corsairs were lost, one crashing at the target and the other making a crash landing out at sea. The Japanese found remains of the pilot that had washed ashore near the coastal town of Saiki and held a funeral for him. Nearly 50 years later, fisherman in Saiki snagged their nets on the remains of the aircraft. Attempts to retrieve the plane were only partially successful with the engine, propeller and part of the wing brought to the surface. The parts of the plane were put on display in 2007 at Saiki city’s Yawaragi Peace Memorial hall along with other parts from other airplanes.

Corsair

Saiki town dignitaries bow to the memory of the US pilot who lost his life. Photographs courtesy of the US Navy

To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, the people of Saiki decided to give the pieces back to the USS Intrepid, which still remains as a museum. The people of Saiki wanted to give the parts back as a sign of goodwill between America and Japan. Unfortunately, The USS Intrepid museum could not legally accept the parts which are still property of the US Navy. Put in contact with the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) the city worked with US officials to bring the Corsair parts home.



On March 6th, 2016 an event was held in Saiki where the Mayor Yasuyoshi Nishijima officially turned over the parts to Captain Matthew Ovios, Commander U.S. Fleet Activities Sasebo, who accepted on behalf of NHHC.

Corsair

Sasebo Color Guard renders honors at the departure ceremony for parts of a World War II F4U-1D Corsair. Photographs courtesy of the US Navy

Ovios was impressed by the people of Saiki “We were there to receive pieces of an aircraft that did a lot of damage to their city during World War II, yet many came up and personally thanked me for 70 years of peace and stability,” Ovios added that the people showed a lot of support for the US Navy saying “The large effort to organize this event and to arrange the delivery of the parts back to the United States is indicative of their appreciation and the pride they take in our alliance.”

The artifacts are being brought to the US and will undergo preservation treatment and will join the collection of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Archaeological Artifact Loan Program. 80% of the collection is on public display around the US, so hopefully the parts will be able to find their way back to the USS Intrepid.

 

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