Many UPS employees volunteer close to home, in their own neighborhoods and local communities. For crewmembers Mark Noah and Marc Flagg, their volunteer work has taken them to the remote reaches of the Pacific Ocean.
Noah, a Miami-based 757/767 captain, is founder and president of History Flight Inc., a nonprofit organization that offers rides in vintage aircraft to raise money for research in locating the remains of U.S. servicemen killed in the Pacific islands during World War II.
“These are young people who gave their lives for their country and were lost and forgotten. Finding them is as important to their family members alive today as it was in 1946 when they were listed as missing in action and unrecoverable,” Noah said.
Noah and Flagg, a Louisville-based MD-11 first officer, recently returned from a research trip to Tarawa, a tiny atoll in the central Pacific that was the scene of a ferocious battle in 1943. More than 1,100 Marines and nearly all of the island’s 5,000 Japanese defenders died during three days of fighting. Many of the American dead were buried in mass graves, with stakes marking the burial sites.
“The construction battalions that arrived after the battle thought the grave markers were just memorials and pulled them up during construction work, so the military couldn’t find the bodies later,” Flagg said.
On a trip to Tarawa last year, a History Flight research team identified five large American burial sites and three individual sites containing the remains of over 200 Marines left behind after World War II. According to History Flight’s website, it was the largest discovery of missing-in-action remains in the history of the American armed forces. Noah and Flagg returned again this year for additional research, using ground penetrating radar, a magnetometer and a cadaver dog to search for graves.
“The data is not complete, but we feel we located at least 140 new burials on this trip,” Noah said, adding that it appears there are about 400 graves on the island, and 70 percent of the grave areas have been identified.
The information gathered from the trip will be turned over to the military’s Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command, with the hope that the U.S. government will disinter the remains and bring them home.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to these people. They should be taken care of; they should be brought home,” Flagg said.
Capt. Houston Mills, international chief pilot, “We are fortunate to have such patriotic crewmembers at UPS. About half of our pilots have prior military service, and like many other UPS employees, some are still active in the National Guard and Reserves.”
To learn more go to historyflight.com.
|Category:||Caring for Communities|
|Tags:||airline, community, employees, heroes, History Flight, Marines, Memorial Day, MIA, military, missing in action, pilots, Tarawa, UPSers, veterans, volunteer, volunteerism, World War II, WWII|