I am proud to say I have known some of the key people who have fueled this charity from the very beginning of its initial steps. It is the wonderful people in this charity and their approach that I'd like to speak to.
I am continually amazed by their big hearts, integrity and unbridled commitment to this mission. I also know what good stewards they are with their funds . They know how to get the "most bang for the buck" so it is most effective in completing the mission.
In its initial stages this venture started by being totally self funded, and that means that right from the beginning the Project Recover Team squeezed the most out of every penny. Even in the heat of the jungle, scrambling through bush and lugging dive equipment to the remotest locations, they never lose sight of the end goal - to bring our MIA veterans families peace and heal that missing hole in their families' story.
What is also so remarkable is how hard they prepare to make the most of every trip . Their recovery missions ARE a mission - run with dedication and precise planning to make the most of every opportunity and be as effective as possible.
I know from personal experience with skydiving with some of the founding members that NOTHING is left to chance. In particular I have been on many trips with Mr. Dan O'Brien that were not part of Project Recover, but required detailed logistics with all levels of government, local culture and unknown equipment . One in particular stands out - which was a massive air show event in Indonesia that involved people from many countries and the Indonesian Military and Highest levels of government. He was able to arrange all the details for our Chutin' Stars Womens' Air Show demonstration team to keep us safe, satisfy the changing requests of the host, and also ensure everyone was treated with courtesy, respect and appreciation - all in over 100 degree heat and with swarming crowds in many venues.
He is not only able to plan meticulously , work well with every person he meets, but Dan is also able to switch gears and be flexible . He does not let setbacks and deadends derail him from the mission, and that is one of the big reasons I am a long term supporter of Project Recover. It is not just that I believe the mission is a good one - it is because of Dan and the rest of the team members . They pour 100% into each mission - they are smart, focused, adaptable - all while remaining kind , good humored , good people .
In this day of feeling we cannot do much to affect some of the big world events, this is one place where you know every donation will be honored and utilized in best possible way - to bring peace from war and honor the dead in a way that no other method or people can ever do for the families of those still missing.
This organization has a noble purpose - to find and repatriate Americans missing in action since World War II. I found Project Recover (formerly known as BentProp) when I was helping my Dad, a World War II veteran of the US Navy/OSS Maritime Unit/UDT 10, research what happened to 3 of his teammates who went MIA during an August 1944 mission on Yap Island/Palau in the Pacific theater. The three teammates - Robert Black, John MacMahon, and Howard Roeder - were presumed captured and executed. Before my Dad passed away in 2015, we discovered that Project Recover was the only group actively searching for these heroes, and he was encouraged to know that they were not forgotten. I plan to continue to follow and support this organization in their search for these brave men. As Americans, we have a duty to help find our military heroes who are still missing in action, and we need to support Project Recover in this effort.
Project Recover is very passionate about what they do. They are interested in growth and successful in finding the POW and MIAS that they are looking for. I support this group because I can see what they are doing is meaningful, as it is the respect of human lives. Also, because it is clear to see that the more support and backing they have, the more they can expand, therefore the more they can help to find those who still need to be found.
As a professional genealogist who has assisted many individuals over the years in finding lost next of kin or other details about their families and have seen first hand the emotional impact of helping them reconnect, I have been impressed by Project Recover’s efforts in this area. Their dedication in locating the remains of MIAs and subsequently reuniting them with their families is simply amazing.
The organization excels in every area – vetting volunteers and team members, historical research, its information infrastructure and communication protocols and the actual physical efforts to find the MIAs are all first rate.
“Missing in Action’ is an emotional concept for service personnel. In a ten man crew of a B-17, there may be only one or two who were close to 30 years of age – the rest were teens or in their early 20s, most not old enough to buy alcohol or vote in the 1940s. Their lives and futures were snuffed out in an instant – most never married, had children or grandchildren or were able to live a full life. Project Recover assists in keeping their memories alive, and that is a truly noble cause.
I’ve had the privilege of volunteering for Project Recover on two of their missions. Their dedication, commitment and passion in seeking and returning the remains of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice is second to none. I was especially impressed by their professionalism and ability to successfully liaise with local agencies and personnel.
Promises made and promises kept. When our men and women in uniform serve their country there is an implicit promise made that should they fall the country will do everything possible to bring them home to their loved ones. That is the promise that Project Recover strives to uphold. As a volunteer for Project Recover it is an honor to work with the team that serves the families of the fallen to research, explore, find, record and hopefully repatriate their loved ones. It is the least we can do to honor their service and sacrifice.
Trying to find words to describe how absolutely wonderful Project Recover has been is extremely difficult. They are a very caring, thoughtful, selfless company. Their whole mission and purpose speaks volumes. My family and I are proud and honored they are the ones who found my grandfather, and I am sure my grandfather would be proud. My grandfather was shot down 76 years ago in WWII, two days before his only child (my father) was born. The love and respect they have shown my father, also a veteran, is amazing and I am forever grateful. I have shed many a tear and had many a smile when I think of the men and women who make up this company. I thank God for them. I hope and pray they are able to keep up their work for many a year to come...until all our MIA's are home.
With gratitude, love, and respect---Amy Dean granddaughter of Ens. Donald Dean US Navy
At some time in the late ‘90s (or was it a bit later?), I received an email from a friend, Dan O’Brien, announcing an expedition in the country of Palau in which he had participated. Dan had become involved in what was then known as “The Bent Prop Project,” named so for the WWII aircraft that struck ocean water at high speed, invariably bending the propellers of the doomed aircraft and, in most cases, ending the lives of the crew.
But I was busy, still active duty Army — and would be until 2004 — and had little time to keep up with the Bent Prop Project. But that changed when I started reading the blog posts that were being written while they were still in Palau on what became regular yearly missions, most lasting six weeks or more!
It was clear these folks were serious about the Bent Prop’s (now known as Project Recover) mission goal to repatriate long lost loved ones. To bring closure to American families whose lives have, in some sense, been ‘on hold’ since their sons, grandsons, and nephews had gone missing some time during WWII.
In place of their loved one, a family had but an impersonal government telegram informing them their son was missing in action. Yet you might think after all these years and generations later, families would simply put the loss behind them and move on. Easier said than done, as it turns out. To better understand what I’m talking about, go to projectrecover.org and click on “Why We Do it” (under the sub-head of “The impact”).
Aside from Project Recover’s profound impact, I happened to know — or at least know of — most of its founding members (the ones who started The Bent Prop Project). Trust me, if you knew these folks, you’d absolutely realize this is not your run-of-the-mill non-profit. No, it’s far more, and the fact they personally funded the early missions themselves — year after year — speaks volumes.
So I was astounded when, in 2016, I was offered the opportunity to help out on an expedition (after an application and interview). To work with the caliber of folks such as these on ANY project would be a privilege, but the Project Recover objectives makes it a no-brainer.
Is Project Recover a worthy non-profit? Anyone even remotely familiar with it would whole-heartedly agree the answer is a resounding, “Absolutely!”
Life member of the VFW and currently holding or held the following positions
1. Post Military Historian
2. Public Relations Advisor
3. 2017 – Present: Post Adjutant General
In 2016, I liaisoned with The Sicily-Rome American Cemetery Staff, journalist for the Buffalo Newspaper and the relatives of PFC Gentile for the returned of his military dogtags (See Below) since I was from Buffalo, NY.
2019 marked the 75th Anniversary of many events of WW 2 and it will be the last time for the few remaining men & women who took part in these events to attend.
Last year, on January 22, 2019 the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings at Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. This event paid tribute to the almost 11,000 Americans honored at Sicily-Rome American Cemetery, who died fighting to liberate Italy.
Between 17 January and 18 May, 1944 – Monte Cassino and the Gustav defences were assaulted four times by Allied troops, the last involving twenty divisions attacking along a twenty-mile front. The German defenders were finally driven from their positions, but at a high cost. The capture of Monte Cassino resulted in 55,000 Allied casualties, with German losses being far fewer, estimated at around 20,000 killed and wounded, plus the countless Italian civilians who perished.
The countryside has changed over the years, today the beach has the sound of families playing and swimming in the sea, battlefields of before are now farm land.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) “Post 12159 Monte Cassino - Naples, Italy” take it’s name from this World War II battle. Paying homage to the military personnel who fought in this battle and those who are buried at the Rome – Sicily American Cemetery and Memorial located in Nettuno, Italy.
Dog tag of Buffalo GI killed in 1945 discovered near Italian coast
By Lou Michel | Buffalo News Staff Reporter
on February 21, 2016 - 11:11 AM
Patricia Blatner will soon have the long-lost dog tag from her uncle, Pasquale Gentile, killed in WWII. Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News
Pasquale Gentile’s life was hard, short and soon forgotten.
He was one of five children of Italian immigrants, and they were separated after their mother died young in Buffalo.
During World War II, he returned to his parents’ homeland as a GI and was killed in action April 24, 1945, just days before the war in Europe ended.
His body was buried on an Italian hillside in Florence, beneath a simple white cross in a sea of more than 4,000 crosses marking the graves of other soldiers.
Now, more than seven decades later, the memory of Pasquale Gentile has come alive through a sudden turn of events, and the niece who never met him but was named Patricia in his honor finds herself torn between joy and sadness.
A hiker found her uncle’s dog tag last month in a wooded area not far from where Gentile landed on the Italian coast, and the tag will soon be in her hands.
“It gives me chills. Being orphaned and not having the chance to have a family, at least he is being remembered. The dog tag will be safe with us, his only living family,” said Patricia Blatner, who lives in the Boston hills. “The only thing we had of his until now was a worn ring with a triangle on it and the words Italy and Africa.”
She says those are the war zones where her uncle served.
Andrea Tamburrini, in an email, said he spotted a piece of metal sticking out of the ground while hiking, and after picking up the object realized he was holding a piece of history – the identity of an American GI who had helped liberate Italy.
32130865 T4243 0
304 S. Division St.
Eager to send the dog tag to Gentile’s relatives, Tamburrini took it to officials at the American Battle Monuments Commission in Nettuno, where he lives. Commission worker Veronica Stasio researched Gentile’s background.
“When I realized it was an American dog tag, I thought it was a sign. I found it five days before the 72nd anniversary of the landings in that area, which occurred Jan. 22, 1944,” Tamburrini said. “It was almost as if destiny had determined that this soldier’s story would continue during this specific time frame to mark the significance of the events.”
Gentile was 30 when he was killed in Parma on April 24, 1945, more than a year after the Battle of Anzio. He was buried at the Florence American Cemetery, one of two World War II American cemeteries maintained by the commission in Italy. Commission records listed John Gentile, as Pasquale’s father and next of kin. The father, who died in 1970, decided that his son’s final resting place should be in Italy.
Stasio’s research also determined that the soldier had four siblings, Rose, Frances, Paul and Dominic. With that information in hand, Stasio emailed The Buffalo News, seeking help in finding a living relative. After numerous phone calls to families with the last name of Gentile locally and out of area, The News succeeded in reaching Gentile’s niece.
The 58-year-old Blatner said that while she is deeply moved that the dog tag was recovered and is being sent to her, she feels a sense of loss for her uncle and all that he missed in life.
“I have a sad heart for my uncle. My dad was able to come back from the war and make a life for himself. But Pasquale was never able to do that. My dad named me Patricia in honor of his older brother,” she said.
Her sadness, she explained, comes from knowing how much the family suffered, and not just because of the war.
Patricia’s father, Paul, was one of five children, the three older siblings, Pasquale, Rose and Frances, and a younger sibling, Dominic, named in honor of their mother, Domenica. Domenica also went by the name of Mary and died in the 1930s.
The Gentiles lived in a neighborhood off Main Street in downtown Buffalo, and their father eked out a living working as a track man for the Steam Rail Road. When his wife died, he tried to keep the family together, but after a few years, the children were taken from him because of a lack of adult supervision while he was at work.
Paul and Dominic ended up as foster children working on a farm in North Collins. The three older children were placed in orphanages.
“My dad told me that he and Pasquale and Rose started to get to know each other when they were young adults. My dad would get a ride into the city and visit Pasquale and Rose. But the reunions did not last for long. My dad and uncle both went to serve in the war. My dad drove a tank in France and Germany.”
Paul Gentile considered himself blessed that he survived the war and was given the chance to raise a family, his daughter said.
“I remember my mom telling us how thrilled he was to have us girls, me, my sister Cathy and mom, because he never really had a family growing up,” Blatner said.
Paul Gentile and his sister, Rose, stayed in touch throughout their lives. Frances Gentile died as a teenager, they were told. Dominic Gentile, as a young man, moved to Pennsylvania. He visited once as an adult and was never heard from again.
And there is another layer of sorrow.
Years after her father and Rose died, Blatner said she, her sister and Rose’s son learned that Frances Gentile had actually lived a long life, and not far from them.
“We received a letter around 15 years ago that our Aunt Frances had died. She had been living in East Aurora all those years, and there was my father living nearby in West Seneca, and he never knew,” Blatner said. “Aunt Frances lived in a room off Main Street in East Aurora, and she was known as the ‘flower lady’ because she watered the flowers on Main Street.”
Why the family had been told Frances Gentile died as a teenager is something that was never revealed.
But Blatner said the past, as sad as it was, cannot be undone and that now there is cause for joy.
“My sister and I are honored to accept our uncle’s dog tag and will hold it with high regard,” Blatner said. “I feel it has been destined by fate that Uncle Pasquale’s story be told, and I am proud to take part in telling it.”
Project Recover illuminates the historical gravity that men and women sacrificed during war.
My Father served in WWll, and returned, but I grew up with friends whose Fathers did not.
By locating not just the site of one's disappearance, but the person, brings the story home
to those who never knew the ending of their story. The history to serve to protect others
is timeless but should never be dismissed. I look forward to hearing and seeing the recovery
of each person as a heroic event, and with reverent appreciation.
I found Project Recover 7 years ago in a youtube video by GoPro called Searching for Heroes. It highlighted the story of Project Recover finding and documenting a missing WWII plane near Palau. Since then, I have watched this video at least 100 times. Every time it hits me with the same wave of emotions. It hit home as the daughter of a Vietnam vet, granddaughter of a WWII vet, and as someone who wants to continue the legacy of service. Project Recover helped guide my senior year of high school when I spent the entire year researching WWII US Naval history. That research culminated into a large research paper as well as a manuscript of war-based poetry. Because of Project Recover, I have realized that my life's purpose is to continue their work and find advancements in oceanographic technology to help document as many WWII planes in the Pacific Theater as possible. To me, there is urgency in finding MIAs and documenting history as it happened. I still feel the same passion for this dream four years later. I still plan to pursue a military career as a Navy JAG. All of this is because of Project Recover and one video they made 7 years ago. I still follow their progress to this day. Thank you, Project Recover, for honoring those who died for our country and have been missing for too long.
I discovered this organization in 2013-2014 when I was searching for more information regarding my uncle, Capt. Charles F. Pratte, Jr., a missing World War II pilot of the Pacific. This group at that time was known as The BentProp Project, which was mainly lead by Dr. Pat Scannon. Their main purpose was and is to research, find and bring our missing veterans home. This search and recover mission has been accomplished by them for a few of our veterans -- which, in my opinion, is an unbelievable accomplishment. In 2018 the name of The Bent Prop Project changed to Project Recover. Dr. Derek Abbey is now the current President and CEO. I have found the people involved with Project Recover to be dedicated, professional and a pleasure to communicate with. I have spoken/emailed various members over the years — most recently with Lauren Trecosta and I think highly of them all. I encourage anyone with a World War II interest, particularly with regard to our MIA veterans, to visit their website to learn more at www.ProjectRecover.org. The work being done by this organization is invaluable and I encourage their support in any way possible.
Great Nonprofit for recovery of remains, ships, planes, etc in search for MIAs from WWII on. I was so touched to have an organization respond so quickly to me in searching for B29 that went down near japan. My uncle was a tail gunner on the B29 and was never recovered after it was shot down. This is such a wonderful group. This is a photo of my uncle, Joseph A Esola, shot down apr 29, 1945 - tail gunner on the Little Jo. Any support for this group would be a wonderful thing as they are so willing to support Veterans who gave their all!
A team of dedicated volunteers searching the Pacific island battlefield search to recover missing WW Ii servicemen. They have been extremely successful in their mission. There are over 80,000 missing with about 40,000 possibly recoverable. “Leave no man behind”. Closure for the families. Worth of support by all.
I have had the opportunity to meet and work with members of the Project Recover team during my professional career. It is an organization with a great mission and focus and its people are skilled and of the highest caliber.
Project Recover provides a very important and honorable service to both our Country and to those who must endure the hardship of literally losing a loved one.
They work closely with other Organizations to perform what would seem to be an impossible task. Their efforts may often result in failure, but one successful mission can overcome the frustration of many unsuccessful attempts.
Our patriotic duty, our moral obligation to fallen comrades and our consideration for those who have lost loved ones compels us to promote and support this effort. God Bless You.
I am a Vietnam veteran, son of a WWII vet, grandson of a WWI vet. I serve as the Executive Director of the Oklahoma VFW Foundation and I heartily endorse Project Recover.
Project Recover does great work that virtually no one else does: finding the remains of lost U.S. service members from WW2 in the Pacific. Beyond that, their findings and information related to crash sites make for great educational resources. I came to know of them when, as a high school teacher, I was connected with them by a WW2 veteran who used to visit my classes. He'd lost a comrade in the Pacific and had worked with Pat Scannon to provide information about the area where he fought.
They do their work with precision, dedication, and dignity, helping to provide some closure for families still wondering where their loved one fell - that's worthy work.
I highly endorse support for Project Recover, and its noble goal to find and recover MIAs from WWII, worldwide. I participated in one such expedition to Palau in 2014 where MIAs were found and later recovered and identified by governmental authorities. These remains were eventually returned for proper burials in the USA.
Under the direction of extremely capable and dedicated people like Dr. Derek Abbey, Ph.D., your support will help fund return of future MIAs’ remains to their loved ones where they belong back home in the USA.
Project Recover is one of my very favorite nonprofits. It's a wonderful group of very talented, dedicated, and caring people. Finding and returning our lost heroes' remains is a singularly American undertaking. My father survived The War In The Pacific as a fighter pilot. So many did not, and they need to be found and returned and honored, as they so rightly deserve.
Project Recover is one of the few organizations I can think of that's mission is truly centered around self-sacrifice. The team members and supporters of the Project Recover mission are dedicated to the simple idea that any military member who left their home to go to war, should not be left behind...no matter how much time has passed. It's not only about the deceased service member, but also the generations of families who struggle with unanswered questions. Project Recover seeks to bring answers to those questions for the family. The PR team dedicates their time and technology resources (otherwise worth $$ millions in other private arenas) to this mission, with no expectation of returns other than the solace for families, such as my own. Project Recover healed a wound of missing information which, quite honestly, everyone in our family had given up hope of mending. The dedicated crew of Project Recover found my grandfather when no one, including our family, still held out hope for answers. As a private entity, Project Recover simply has the flexibility, bandwidth, and technology to conduct more extensive investigations than government resources can permit. My family and I are eternally humbled by the olympian results of Project Recover. They have my unending gratitude.
The men and women who are Project Recover are the most dedicated and compassionate people. They gave our family closure and my uncle back so we could honor him in a proper way. Since he was MIA since World War 2.off the island of Palau. They have done this for many families and continue to do so. We got to experience first hand their dedication and their drive to bring our fallen home. They every step of the way connect with the families and a strong bond is made. My aunt, finally had her brother home because of them. Through their work and organization many more families will also experience what our family did. We can never thank them enough..Their mission is to find and bring home our fallen heroes..please support them.
As a volunteer for Project Recover, I can absolutely say that the team is comprised of some of the most selfless, talented, patriotic, and driven individuals that I have come into contact with. The technical skill required to reach deep untouched areas of the ocean and the tenacity to forge through canopied jungle and claustrophobic mangrove to help uncover nearly century old mysteries for our fallen is something that is quite unique and special. Even though there are some tremendous feats achieved in dealing with and navigating these unforgiving environments, it is the missing servicemember and their family that is always at the heart of what Project Recover does. It is truly an honor to be a part of this organization and their value is truly understated as I have personally seen the powerful impact on many families.
This organization helped to fill a hole in my family that lasted generations. My great uncle went MIA in World War II. He was listed as MIA for 70 + years. The men and women at Project Recover with their expertise and unwavering determination not only found his missing plane wreck, but were able to bring my great uncle's remains home where they belonged. This organizanization never quits amazing me in their constant effort to bring home the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. The closure they have brought to so many American families is absolutely incredible.
Project Recover has provided me continued purpose beyond my career in the Marine Corps. Many veterans face perceived loss of purpose once they leave the military. Members of Project Recover are very aware of the impact and the legacy they are creating. Not only does the organization have an immeasurable impact on Gold Star families, they have similar impact on the military members and first responders that are performing the work.