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Project Recover: Bringing Home America's Missing in Action

Updated: May 1

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WHAT IS PROJECT RECOVER?


Project Recover is a collaborative effort to enlist 21st-century science and technology in a quest to find and repatriate Americans missing in action (MIA) since World War II in order to provide recognition and closure for families and the nation.


Project Recover has located more than 50 US WW II aircraft, as well as 30 US World War II aircraft associated with more than 100 MIAs, in missions around the globe. Additionally, the organization located the USS Abner Read, a destroyer associated with 70 MIAs.


Working in full cooperation with host nations and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), Project Recover has helped repatriate 13 MIAs. In 2021, our mission will expand to include recovery operations of 87 MIAs.


Click below to listen to President and CEO Derek Abbey speak about Project Recover:


Formerly known as The BentProp Project, Project Recover began as Dr. Pat Scannon’s vision to bring MIAs home from Palau in 1993.


In the last 27 years, the organization has grown into a team of dedicated professionals and volunteers using innovative science and technology to search for our MIAs around the world, working in full cooperation with host nations and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to bring them home.


In 2012, Project Recover was informally founded as a collaborative partnership between Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, and University of Delaware, and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware. In 2016, the partnership was formalized. In 2018, The BentProp Project officially changed its name to Project Recover. The organization still works in close partnership with Scripps and UDel.


Derek Abbey, Ph.D., has served as Project Recover President and CEO since September 2019. Project Recover conducts its missions through volunteer efforts and the generous donation of sponsors. The Friedkin Group has been a generous sponsor of Project Recover missions from 2014 through 2020. In 2019, the National Navy UDT/SEAL Museum sponsored a mission to Palau as well. Project Recover works in collaboration with many partners including RV Petrel, Hillwood, Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation, and the USS Midway Museum.


Project Recover is committed to providing unique educational opportunities with real-world applications. The nonprofit has sponsored interns from several colleges. From 2012-2015, Project Recover helped the Stockbridge High School Underwater Robotics Team refine their skill and technology in four Project Recover missions in Palau. Most recently, Project Recover partnered with Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation to teach High Tech High students aboard the USS Midway Museum.


Project Recover is keeping America’s promise to bring our MIAs home. We do so for our MIAs’ recognition, their families’ closure, and because it is the right thing to do. Still, even we did not anticipate the full impact that finding our MIAs would have almost a century later.


In a time of national division, our MIAs return home as a unifying force. Without words, they speak of peace and humility, kinship, and gratitude. When we celebrate our MIA’s homecoming, Americans gather in love, gratitude, peace, and hope -- and transcend differences. It is our MIAs’ final mission.

In what one MIA family member aptly described as “looking for the smallest needle in the largest haystack,” Project Recover team members comb through military action reports to identify broad swaths of ocean and land where U.S. servicemen were killed over 75 years ago and execute onsite searches involving a combination of technology (sophisticated underwater drones) and painstaking manual labor (scuba dives and archaeological digs). The team travels to some of the most beautiful tropical locations in the world, where unimaginable atrocities once occurred.


While the search for a single crash site can require years of effort, the Project Recover team members are fueled by the sense of purpose that comes from identifying the remains of Americans who gave their lives in service, returning those remains to their proper home, and bringing closure to families who had nothing more than a picture on a mantle, vague memories passed down from prior generations and unanswered questions.


In breathtaking imagery filmed over several years and intimate interviews with Project Recover team members and MIA families, To What Remains (go to www.projectrecover.org to view a clip) takes viewers inside this emotional journey to honor our fallen servicemen, from the discovery of wreckage on the seafloor in the South Pacific, to the living room of a stunned family in middle America, to a well-deserved final resting place at home.


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