Nonprofit searches for remains of WWII Coast Guardsmen

Global Exploration and Recovery members (left to right) John Bradley, Jaana Gustafsson and Francis Marley. (Photo courtesy of Global Exploration and Recovery)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

A group of scientists and mountaineers, including one from Alaska, is searching for the remains of Coast Guardsmen who crashed in Greenland during World War II.

Francis Marley, who has worked on Coast Guard Base Kodiak as an environmental consultant, is one of the team members. He is also the co-vice president of Global Exploration and Recovery, a nonprofit he formed with another service member around the recovery effort in 2010.

Marley says the two men they’re searching for were on a rescue mission in 1942, looking for the crew of a B-17 bomber, when their plane went down on the Greenland icecap.

“Some of the timeliness of the mission is that the sister of the pilot, Nancy Pritchard, is 94, and so we’d really like to bring her brother, John Pritchard, home as well as the rest of the crew, before she passes.”

He says the team is made up of service members, and they’re aiming for a three square mile area on the ice cap that hasn’t been moving much for the last 70-plus years.

“And so that’s why we feel that the aircraft is relatively in the same position it was when it crashed. It was observed after the crash for five years on the surface of the ice before it disappeared down into the ice cap.”

Marley says they’ll use radar to locate the plane and fly into Iceland on July 05. From there, they’ll head over to Greenland with crew from Colorado, Washington, and Sweden.

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