Legacy Restored: WWII Bomber 'Heaven Can Wait' Recovery Honors Fallen Heroes

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Legacy Restored: WWII Bomber 'Heaven Can Wait' Recovery Honors Fallen Heroes

The discovery and recovery of the wreckage of the WWII bomber "Heaven Can Wait" off the coast of New Guinea represent a poignant chapter in honoring the sacrifices of service members. The aircraft, which crashed in March of 1944 with 11 servicemen on board, had long been among the thousands of cases considered missing in action from World War II. Among those lost was Lt. Thomas V. Kelly Jr., a poignant figure whose cousin, Sandy Althaus, still recalls the emotional impact of his tragic fate.

In 2013, Sandy's son, Scott Althaus, embarked on a determined quest to uncover the truth about "Heaven Can Wait." Through meticulous research and collaboration with Project Recover, the wreckage was finally located in 2017, resting more than 230 feet deep. This depth posed a formidable challenge for traditional recovery efforts, necessitating the involvement of specialized agencies like the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) and the Navy Experimental Diving Unit.

Despite the daunting depth, a successful recovery mission was carried out, retrieving a substantial amount of biological and non-biological evidence from the bomber. Greg Stratton from DPAA and Lt. Commander Daniel Kinney from the dive unit both expressed profound gratitude and humility in their roles during this endeavor. The recovered material is now undergoing meticulous analysis, providing closure to families like Sandy Althaus' and ensuring that these brave servicemen are honored with the dignity they deserve.

Video credit
EMC Brian Shuler - Producer, Heaven Can Wait - Working title Papa New Guinea / March 2023
Navy Experimental Diving Unit SAT Detachment