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Wreckage on the ocean floor near a Japanese island must be from a fighter-bomber that crashed in 1945 with an American pilot who is still listed as missing in action, according to a World War II researcher who recently visited the crash site.
The aircraft, lying on coral reef about 70 feet (21) meters down, is the same type of F4U-4 Corsair that 2nd Lt. John McGrath was flying when he crashed off Iriomote Jima in July 1945, researcher Justin Taylan said this week.
American - Aircraft - Spot - Taylan - Founder
"This is the only American aircraft lost at that precise spot," said Taylan, the founder of Pacific Wrecks, an organization that researches and catalogues WWII crashes.
McGrath, of Troy, New York, is still officially listed by the U.S. military as one of nearly 73,000 American MIAs from WWII. He was 20 when his aircraft disappeared.
Taylan - Wreckage - Dive - March - Man
Taylan explored the wreckage during a scuba dive in March, along with a Japanese man who discovered the wreck in 1987.
Both wings, the engine and other parts lie approximately 300 yards (275 meters) from shore, a location where American pilots said they saw the plane go down.
Markings - Years - Sea - Water - Wreckage
Although no identifying markings are visible after 74 years in sea water, the coral-encrusted wreckage clearly is from the newer version of the Corsair that McGrath's Marine Corps aviation unit was flying at the end of the war, Taylan said.
Taylan, a former Pentagon contractor hired to research and find WWII crash sites in Papua New Guinea, became interested in McGrath's story in 2017, when he was contacted by the son of one of the missing pilot's old high school classmates.
US - Records - Taylan - Help - Kuentai
After researching U.S. military records, Taylan enlisted the help of Kuentai, a Japanese group that searches WWII battlefields in the Pacific for the remains of Japanese and American servicemen.
In March, Taylan traveled to Iriomote Jima, 275 miles (440 kilometers) southwest...
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