Battlefield Archaeology: Searching for the Missing in Action aircrews in Yap island, by Patrick Ranfranz

Aircraft wrecks, Interviews, WW2, WW2 Pacific Treasures, WW2 Wrecks

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos and videos by Patrick Ranfrantz, used by permission

Yap island is located in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean.


It was occupied by Japanese troops in September 1914, and passed to the Japanese Empire under the Versailles Treaty in 1919 as a mandated territory under League of Nations supervision.


In World War 2, Yap was one of the islands bypassed in the U.S. “island-hopping” strategy, although it was regularly bombed by U.S. ships and aircraft, and Yap-based Japanese bombers did some damage in return.


In 1986, Yap, Truk, Pohnpei, and Kosrae formed the independent nation of the Federated States of Micronesia.


While no land battles ever took place on Yap, dozens of aircraft were lost during missions and several air crews remain unaccounted for, even to this day.


Mr. Patrick Ranfranz has been focusing on the history of Yap island since 2005 and he is actively involved in searching the Missing in Action aircrews lost on the island and in the ocean surrounding it.

Here is what Mr. Ranfranz said to

In 2005 my wife and I started traveling to Yap to search for my uncle’s missing B-24.


Although we have not found his plane, we have researched, located and documented about a dozen other American planes.


In addition, I partnered with the Yap Visitors Bureau to create all-weather memorial/history signs and marble markers to place at the World War II sites (American and Japanese) around the island to help them promote their WWII history as well as remembering all the men.


You can now tour dozens of American and Japanese sites on Yap and read the history of each site.


 I’m still searching for my uncle’s plane.


We had a research ship spend time off Yap last fall searching with an AUV and sonar. My ultimate goal is to find my uncle’s missing plane as well as all the planes listed at the link below.


I have been researching the loss of my uncle, T/Sgt John R. McCullough—Ass’t Radio Operator , since I was in college in the 80’s.

When researching my senior thesis (History major), I discovered what happened to the Coleman Crew 

I was able to help my family understand what happened to my uncle and his crew over Yap Island on June 25, 1944.