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Divers believe they have located 67 year old wreckage of U.S. seaplane

Aug. 10, 2009 – Divers believe they have located 67 year old wreckage of U.S. seaplane in Quebec. U.S. authorities may soon be able to turn the page on a nearly 70-year-old wartime mystery involving a seaplane that crashed in the St. Lawrence River.


August 10, 2009
By Administrator

Aug. 10, 2009 – Divers believe they have located 67 year old wreckage of U.S. seaplane in Quebec. U.S. authorities may soon be able to turn the page on a nearly 70-year-old wartime mystery involving a seaplane that crashed in the St. Lawrence River.

Canadian divers believe they may have discovered the wreckage of a U.S. Army air force amphibious craft that went down near the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan in eastern Quebec on Nov. 2, 1942.

Nine people were aboard the PBY-5A Catalina, which was based at Presque Isle, Maine, and serviced an airfield in Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan.

Four crew members were able to get out of the plane and were found by local fishermen.

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The five other people trapped inside the aircraft died and their bodies have yet to be recovered.

According to an Associated Press story dated Nov. 4, 1942, they were Lt.-Col. Harry J. Zimmerman of Long Island, N.Y; Capt. Carney Lee Dowlen of Dallas, Texas; Sgt. Charles O. Richardson of Charlevoix, Mich; Pte. Erwin G. Austin of Monroe, Maine; and Pte. Peter J. Cuzins of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Zimmerman was described as an experienced airman who'd spent 13 years as a commercial pilot with Transcontinental and Western Air.

He had reportedly logged more than two million air miles when he joined the army in April 1942, two years after he piloted a "record-breaking Los Angeles to New York flight in a giant Boeing Stratoliner."

He was awarded the Legion of Merit a month after the crash, according to another AP story.

"As control officer, North Atlantic Wing, Air Forces Ferrying Command, Colonel Zimmerman was responsible for the movement through this wing of all aircraft equipment to foreign stations," the citation stated.

"Colonel Zimmerman flew over the North Atlantic route in order to familiarize himself with the pioneering hazards incidental to this shipping lane.''

According to the War Department, the plane had completed the first leg of a routine flight and was taking off for the return trip to base when it capsized in rough weather.

Recent sonar data indicates the seaplane is in good condition and that human remains may be found.

Parks Canada said Canada and the United States will work together to salvage the wreckage and to explore the possibility of eventually recovering the remains of the missing crew members.

Federal cabinet minister Christian Paradis was at the scene on Thursday along with U.S. diplomats.

"This is a very significant discovery," said Paradis, who was acting on behalf of Environment Minister Jim Prentice.

"This plane is a testament to the collaboration between Canada and the U.S. during the Second World War. It also rekindles memories of courage and strength for the community of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan in Quebec, which was involved in the rescue of four survivors of the downed plane, and it reminds us of the courage and sacrifices experienced by all those who don the uniform."

David Fetter, the U.S. consul general in Quebec, said the process has been an excellent example of the spirit of co-operation between both countries.

"The United States government was extremely interested to learn of the discovery of the wreckage, and we look forward to working with our Canadian friends to verify the identity of the aircraft," Fetter said.