Planning for What's Possible

Things have been quiet at Global Exploration and Recovery recently, but we've been occupied behind the scenes with a wide range of preparations.  All four of us have been working steadily to advance towards the near term goal:  returning to Greenland for a survey mission in 2016.

John Bradley has continued to recruit sponsors to back our mission.  His persistence in reaching out to manufacturers, retailers, and other private sector businesses has yielded new fruitful partnerships.  He's also been honing his skills in areas that will be useful to our work:  rescue in confined spaces and both high and low angle scenarios, as well as expanding his medical certifications.  John has also been gathering input from sources in different fields whose expertise will be vital to planning our survey design and strengthening relationships with leaders in the community in Greenland.

Frank Marley has been busy with his military commitments, recently earning the gold standard in the German Armed Forces Proficiency assessment.  This is a prestigious test that U.S. Service members occasionally have the opportunity to take.  Frank has also prepared research plans to access some little-known archives that may contain valuable historical information about the Duck to inform our survey mission next year.

Jaana Gustafsson has been both on and off the radar - literally.  She's been in Nepal over the past several weeks working with a European glaciology team to conduct radar surveys on a glacier near Dhaulagiri, one of the world's fourteen 8,000m peaks.  Her summer research projects have also taken her to the northernmost reaches of Sweden and Norway.  Lessons she's learning from radar investigations in these environments will refine the techniques we use when we return to Greenland.

Nick Bratton has been in regular contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, discussing plans for a partnership in 2016.  Public-private partnerships are an area of interest for the government.  We have the capacity, skills, and resources to collaborate productively with our willing counterparts in the Coast Guard.  The recovery of the 3 missing men remains a high priority for the Coast Guard and they are thinking creatively about how to keep momentum for the mission strong.  Nick has also been leading GEaR's media strategy development.  

As the temperatures grow cooler this fall, look for things to start heating up with GEaR.  Many of the seeds we've been planting this year will bear fruit soon and we're excited to share our accomplishments with our loyal supporters.  Stay tuned!



Waiting out the Winter

At GEaR we are honest with each other, honest with our partners, and honest with our supporters. It’s in the fabric of who we are and it’s a small way we can honor the memories of the men we’re working to bring home. Let’s be honest: things aren’t looking promising for a return trip to Greenland in 2015. We need to reflect on our approach to pursuing private funding for the project and learn from the experience. We also need to focus on the future.

Like the snows that swirl across the icecap in Greenland, the course of this mission has changed direction frequently and unexpectedly. Like the crew aboard the B-17 bomber PN9E that the men on the Duck found, we have a long winter ahead of us. And like those men, we must be resourceful, persistent, and patient to achieve our goals. For them it was escaping Greenland; for us it’s getting there.                                                                                                      

What have we achieved so far in 2015? We might not have raised the cash we needed to fund the survey mission, but we have made other noteworthy progress. We gained the support of generous and enthusiastic sponsors - too many to list here - who believe in our work and want to contribute to the mission. We have the support of the U.S. Coast Guard for our work and continue to cultivate positive working relationships with our partners in the service. Most importantly, we have the support of the families of the missing men. They are grateful for our efforts and we are motivated by their enthusiasm.                                                                             

The men aboard the B-17 who faced the fierce Greenlandic winter survived because they remained positive and proactive. It’s hard to be optimistic in the face of adversity, but it’s the best way to overcome it. We’re continuing to raise money, explore new partnerships, and tell the story of our mission. There is a lot of work ahead and we can still make meaningful progress now. Nothing ever falls neatly into place in this mission, every gain comes through hard work, and with many simple acts we can achieve a complex goal.


Then and There Meets Here and Now

"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.