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UPS Crewmembers Search for Remains of Missing WWII Veterans

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.

MD-11 First Officer Marc Flagg, left, and 757/767 Capt. Mark Noah recently traveled to Tarawa to search for the remains of U.S. servicemen listed as missing in action during World War II.

MD-11 First Officer Marc Flagg, left, and 757/767 Capt. Mark Noah recently traveled to Tarawa to search for the remains of U.S. servicemen listed as missing in action during World War II.

“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
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    Comments [1]

  1. I forwarded this interesting article to my cousin, Col.
    Sam Passo, DDS, who is assigned with the 101st
    Airborne, just outside of Louisville, in Ft. Campbell, KY.

    My cousin Sam is, among other things, a forensic
    dentist and an official historian for the US Dental
    Corps. He also is a published author of the definitive
    history of the 13th [late the 15th] Indiana Regiment in
    the Civil War, 1st Flag on the Summit.

    I know that he will be quite interested in this somber
    and important mission on the part of UPSers, for our
    heroic warriers who are still missing in action..

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