Greenland Searcher To Speak in Wausaukee October 5 and 6Issue Date: October 4, 2018
A piece of Wausaukee history will come to the forefront this week and become part of the Wausaukee Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6.
For three quarters of a century - since November of 1942 - the bodies of three American servicemen have been lost in the frozen glaciers of Greenland. One of those lost men is Corporal Loren "Lolly" Howarth, who was a life-long Wausaukee resident and a graduate of Wausaukee High School before he went off to fight in World War II.
His plane went down on Nov. 9, 1942 while on a volunteer mission to rescue survivors of a plane crash on Greenland. He died 20 days later along with two other U.S. servicemen when a plane attempting to rescue him also crashed. The three bodies were never recovered.
In July of this year a four-member American volunteer team working with a private non-profit organization known as GEaR (Global Restoration and Recovery) went to Greenland in a third attempt to find the remains and bring them home for a proper burial.
One brand new member of that volunteer team was Christie Fisher, of Woodinville, WA, who has been collaborating with Wausaukee High School History Teacher Sue Stoltenberg for nearly two years on plans to bring the heroism of these three men, and of those who survived the icy ordeal, alive for Wausaukee students.
Now that is to happen. Stoltenberg is to pick Fisher up at the airport in Green Bay on Thursday, Oct. 4 and bring her to Wausaukee. In three separate presentations for Wausaukee students at the school on Friday, Oct. 5, Fisher is to recount the story of the lost men and tell of the searches to date.
On Saturday, Oct. 6, she will be at the Mid County Library in downtown Wausaukee from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to converse with anyone who stops in and will make formal presentations for the public at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.
Fisher said her programs will focus on the searches for the lost heroes in the frozen glaciers of Greenland, as well as the events that led to their death and disappearance while they themselves were involved in rescue attempts.
The epic began on Nov. 5, 1942, when a U.S. C-53 Skytrooper crashed with five men aboard, in a frozen part of Greenland where temperatures could and often did fall to 35 below. All men survived and were able to send a distress signal and they were eventually rescued.
However, on Nov. 9. 1942 a B-17 'PN9E' set out to search for those men, and it crashed. All five members of that volunteer rescue crew (which included Corporal Loren "Lolly" Howarth) survived the crash, and all but Howarth came home to tell about it.
After the crash, Howarth managed to repair the radio transmitter and on November 16, they were able to send a distress signal. On Nov. 24 wreckage of their PN9E was finally spotted and fresh supplies were dropped.
On Nov 28 USCG Pilot Lt. John Pritchard and Radioman Benjamin Bottoms successfully landed their Grumman Duck on the glacier and were able to rescue two of the survivors from the PN9E.
The next day, Nov. 29, 1942, Pritchard and Bottoms returned in the Duck and picked up Howarth, after which the Duck crashed in a storm. Pritchard, Bottoms, and Howarth were killed in the crash. Their bodies have never been located, but In accord with American tradition that the bodies of servicemen lost in battle will be returned home for honorable burial, there have been intermittent searches for their remains ever since.
On Feb. 5 and April 6 of 1943 the final living members of the PN9E crew were successfully rescued from the Greenland ice cap. They had managed to live for nearly four months in that frigid wasteland with few supplies and scant shelter.
Fisher said the story she tells combines patriotism, volunteerism, and overcoming big challenges in remote wilderness areas.
She said the Coast Guard plane that crashed with Howarth, Pritchard and Bottoms aboard has never been recovered and is probably encased in two or more feet of ice by now. Search efforts today are aided by metal detectors and other modern devices not available in the years immediately following World War II.
Stoltenberg said she has been working with Friends Of The Library to help support Fisher's visit to Wausaukee as well as the work the research team has been doing to recover the bodies of Howarth and the two other American servicemen who lost their lives in that ill-fated rescue rescue attempt during World War II.
She also has been teaching her Wausaukee High School students about the work these volunteers have been doing, and the heroism shown by Howarth and the others in their struggle for survival against almost impossible odds.
Stoltenberg said she became interested in Howarth's story after reading Mitchell Zukoff's "Frozen In Time." She tied the story to Veterans Day observances at Wausaukee High School two years ago, and eventually she and Fisher began corresponding.
Fisher said Stoltenberg is passionate about this story and intends to continue teaching WWII history to her students, with focus on Howarth as a hometown hero, and on the values of the servicemen who fought in that war.
Fisher said GEaR'a small team of passionate individuals volunteer their time, money, and skills to come together in hoped of living up to the promise America makes to our Servicepersons - that we will not leave them behind. "It's a promise we are working hard to keep," she declared
Fisher said in addition to paying proper respect to the servicemen who died while trying to help others, the expedition and the entire story can be used as a way to teach some really important subjects, like collaborative problem solving, perseverance, heroism, patriotism, and the fact that for many things in life, as in this search, "there is no guaranteed success, but its great to take on projects that you don't know for sure will succeed."
She said engaging with students, such as those in Stoltenberg's classes, "is core to our mission."
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