BentProp: Deep sea diving for the forgotten

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Photo Courtesy: MGN Online

(CBS) – “All of sudden, out of the darkness emerges this aircraft,” Anderson Cooper says about diving in the waters off Palau with BentProp, an organization dedicated to find missing World War II planes and the remains of U.S. servicemen. “You see a wing. You see a propeller … This is not a dive site. This is a graveyard.”

The following is a script of the video produced for 60 Minutes Overtime by Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson and Lisa Orlando which was originally published on November 23, 2014.

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson: Your story this week focuses on BentProp. What does BentProp do?

Anderson Cooper: BentProp is an organization that was started by this guy, Pat Scannon. And he visited the island of Palau in the mid ’90s and discovered this plane with a bent propeller sticking out of the water. And he became obsessed really, trying to figure out what happened to this plane, to this aircraft from World War II and what happened to the crew members. And ever since then, he has been going back. And he tries to find the remains of service members who are still missing.

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson: Where does this obsession come from?

Anderson Cooper: You know, Pat Scannon is a really interesting character. His dad served in the military during World War II. Pat Scannon served in the military as well. And so I think part of it comes from a real belief in service and a belief in the military. But also I think there was something about the ideas of these people who are still missing, who they’ve never been returned to their families. They’ve never had a burial. Their families don’t really know what happened to them.

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson: Diving with him, this must have been fascinating?

Anderson Cooper: Yeah. It was really cool.

Anderson Cooper: All of a sudden, out of the darkness emerges this aircraft. You see a wing. You see a propeller. You see the, you know, the door of the aircraft. You see the gun positions. This is not a dive site. This is a graveyard. I will say I’m a terrible diver. And though I’m a dive enthusiast, and I’m up for anything, and I’ve, you know, dived with crocodiles for 60 Minutes and great white sharks, I’m not a great diver. I did pass my certification. But I don’t remember the dials and everything. And on this dive with BentProp I mean, thank God I was with good divers from BentProp team because I was so focused on narrating what I was seeing.

[Anderson Cooper: This is one of the propellers of the aircraft…]

Anderson Cooper: I don’t even know what it’s called…

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson: The oxygen?

Anderson Cooper: The air, oxygen level. And I was basically out of air. I mean, I think had I stayed down another 30 seconds, I would have been completely out of air. And I think Casey Doyle at one point, like, literally looked at my dial and was like, grabbed me and brought me out.

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson: Right back up? Wow.

Anderson Cooper: Yes. So yeah.

Magalie Laguerre-Wilkinson: Anderson, you were moved it seemed, visibly moved by this poem that Pat Scannon reads.

[Dr. Pat Scannon: It’s a poem written by Laurence Binyon during World War I and it was called “For the Fallen.”]

Anderson Cooper: Whenever they find a site where a plane has gone down they actually hold a ceremony. They unfurl an American flag and a Palaun flag and they recite this poem. And when I ask him about it in the interview, he can only say the poem if he stands up.

[Dr. Pat Scannon: “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: / Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. / At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.”]

[Anderson Cooper: Can I read the beginning to you?]

[Dr. Pat Scannon: Absolutely.]

[Anderson Cooper: “They went with songs to the battle, they were young, / Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow. / They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted, / They fell with their faces to the foe.”]

Anderson Cooper: To think 70 years ago that somebody flying over Palau was flying through a hail of gunfire, bullets, anti-aircraft and, you know, pilots have called it “the forgotten corner of hell.” I mean, it was an incredibly intense air campaign. I mean, there’s so much of the wreckage from World War II.

[Anderson Cooper: So this is a Japanese “Jake” seaplane]

Anderson Cooper: It’s all still there.

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