United States Navy Aircrew
30 March 1944
Island Avenger, 21-22 April 02 A number of years ago, a Navy TBM Avenger
was discovered by a visiting pilot, Duncan Cameron, while exploring the
rock islands along the western side of Ngeruktabel, which he immediately
reported to the US consulate. While most of the Avenger lies upside down
in ~ 25 feet of water along the northern base of the island, parts can
also be seen on the island above the wreck.
Members from CILHI subsequently were called in from Hawaii and were able to confirm the crew’s identities from one set of dog tags (belonging to ARM2c Louis J. Sumers). They also removed some remains found on this Rock Island. This Avenger, flown by LT(jg) Jarrell S. Jenkins, with third crewmember AMM1c Thomas B. Conlen, was last seen in action by his USS Cabot wingmen beginning a dive on 30 March 44.
Although the crash was not witnessed, the aircraft
appears to have impacted first onto the northern face of the coral island,
then slid into the water at the island’s base. Dan Bailey later described
the site in detail in his book, World War II Wrecks of Palau. The P-MAN
IV team reexamined both the water site and the land site, photodocumenting
the area and taking GPS readings. Considerable debris from the cockpit
area, including canopy structure, remains on the island, which suggests
the Avenger impacted inverted onto the island before sliding down into
the water. The upside down port wing still displays an intact Yag radar
antenna, which represents an early aerial application of this technology.
Photo Courtesy of Roxsanne Wells-Layton, July 2006