"You have to go out but you don't have to come back." This is the unofficial slogan of the United States Coast Guard. The remarkable men and women of this service live this creed every day and none embody it more than Lt. John Pritchard and Radioman Benjamin Bottoms. In 1942 these men died in a dramatic and audacious rescue mission in Greenland, along with U.S. Army Air Corps Corporal Loren Howarth. Their plane, a Grumman J2F-4 Duck amphibious biplane, crashed in a storm on a fateful November day near Koge Bay. For 72 years they have been missing, buried beneath the ice of Greenland's coastal glaciers.
Although their bodies remain lost, the memories of these men remain strong. Efforts to find them have met with mixed results in recent years. In 2012 an expedition identified wreckage from the plane in the vicinity of the crash and a 2013 follow-up mission was unable to discover new evidence. A 2014 effort demonstrated the effectiveness of new recovery techniques but also came home empty-handed. Despite setbacks and the near-impossible goal of finding a plane buried in a glacier, our resolve to continue the mission remains strong. These men would have come looking for us. We honor their memory by looking for them.
Now members from recent trips are regrouping, taking a fresh approach to the search. The GEaR team is planning an expedition to Greenland this summer to conduct an extensive survey of the crash vicinity with proven technology and methods. We plan to leave on July 4th, Independence Day, to recognize the sacrifice that these heroes made for their fellow Americans in World War 2.
Why us? Why now? We've been there. We know the terrain, the locals, and the institutions. We understand the science needed to find the men. We have the right tools and techniques for the job. Our unique combination of skills makes us the right team for the job. We have positive, professional relationships with the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Defense, the governmental bodies who are deeply invested in the return of these men and with whom we are coordinating our efforts. We hope you will follow our progress and support our work. Check back for news and updates. Feel free to reach out to us - we'd love to hear from you, hear your questions and ideas.