My journey started in 1987 when a friend and I discovered the wreckage of a fighter plane, a single engine Airacobra P39, on the sea floor in the Simpson (Rabaul) Harbour. We assumed we were the first people to find this plane since it went missing on 12 March 1944.
Through the investigation of records at the Port Moresby Museum I discovered that the pilot was Lt John H. Bodge, 67th Fighter Squadron. He took off from Green Island, Bougainville to undertake a four aircraft sortie over Rabaul township on the morning of 12 March 1944. After the run all the aircraft were to regroup at the rally point five miles east of Cape Gazelle. However Lt John Bodge never re-joined the group. He was officially declared dead on January 19, 1946 and is memorialised on the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery.
Since then I have been trying to find any relatives as I have something special from the site that is best being with a relative rather than with me. After several letters to US Dept of Defense in the late 1980's and other organisations I was no closer to finding a relative. I had my doubts that there were any descendants as John was in his 20's when he went missing. From my research I discovered that Lt John Bodge may have lived near Boston, Massachusetts.
In 2015 I created my own website in an attempt to contact any relative or descendant of John Bodge. Several months later two relatives contacted me, then in September last year I received an email "I think you have found my grandfather. I have little or no information about him." This was from his granddaughter - Emily.
Emily, who has two young children, lives in Germany. In the past couple of months we have been communicating about John Bodge. Soon, she will have something very special from me for both her and her children to remember their grandfather and great grandfather.
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.
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A joint task force within the US Department of Defense (DoD) whose mission is to account for Americans who are listed as Prisoners of War (POW) or Missing in Action, (MIA)
WHO AM I
Auckland, New Zealand
My wife and I lived in Rabaul from 1985 to 1988. I worked at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory as a land surveyor measuring the ground deformation and uplift at Rabaul and other volcanoes throughout Papua New Guinea. We both learnt to dive in Rabual and enjoyed the many diving opportunities. We have two daughters, the oldest was born in Rabaul. I now live and work in Auckland, New Zealand.