The D5/T5 ratings for this Geocache of the Week Virtual Cache are spot on, and could probably be even higher (T6 rating, anyone…?). In the fifteen years since publication, only six geocachers have logged this cache due to the extraordinarily remote location and methods of traveling there.
This World War II plane wreck is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 500 miles (800 km) west of the International Date Line near the Majuro atoll as part of the Marshall Islands. A kidney-shaped reef 25 miles (40 km) long with a population of around 20,000 people, Majuro is is a tropical paradise boasting beaches, reefs, a wealth of stunning sea life, and even more local history.
The usual route begins in Honolulu, Hawaii when one boards a five-hour flight to the atoll, which is scheduled on a weekly-ish basis. Then drive about 20 miles to the opposite end of the atoll to lovely Laura Beach.
You then have the following options: wade out to the site at low tide, swim, or hire one of the local dive operators to take you out on a boat. If you are a strong swimmer and have snorkel gear, the swim out from Laura Beach is quite pleasant and allows ample opportunities to view colorful corals, clams, and fish. In any event, you will need a mask, snorkel, and underwater camera to log this cache.
On December 28, 1943, this particular bomber sustained significant damage due to intense fighter opposition over its target area of Taroa. It limped back toward its base in Tarawa on 2 engines, making it back as far as Majuro, where the pilot crash-landed on the reef. The crew was taken into custody by the Japanese, who then controlled Majuro. Their fate is not known conclusively.
To log this cache, you must
- Find the single word cast in metal on the remaining machine gun, just above the perforated and air-cooled section of the barrel.
- Post an underwater photo of yourself in front of one of the remaining propellers.
- Take a moment to reflect on the many brave people who died on all sides of World War II in the Pacific Theater and what life must have been like in those say, navigating the endless blue Pacific without a GPS.
Depending on the tides, the plane may or may not be visible above the water. At low tide, the propellers can be seen above the waterline, and one can walk along the top of the mostly intact wing of the aircraft with their head well above water.
Most of the fuselage has disappeared, probably due to wave and tidal action over the years. Several other fragments of the plane are nearby including a Sperry ball turret, the belly machine gun unit with one barrel still visible.
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