ROCKLAND — On November 29, 1942, in rapidly-approaching white-out conditions, the J2F-4 Grumman Duck amphibious biplane piloted by Lt. John Pritchard USCG, with Radioman 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms, with newly rescued Corporal Loren Howarth flew into the ice sheet. Nine minutes earlier, Pritchard and Bottoms had rescued Howarth from the downed B-17 Flying Fortress PN9E searching for a C-53 Skytrooper with five men aboard.
The C-53 and its crew, 35 miles away, are believed to be 300-feet below the surface of the ice sheet. The ordeal of these three aircraft and their crews is chronicled in the book Frozen In Time, by Mitchell Zuckoff.
Lou Sapienza, Board chairman of the Fallen American Veteran's Foundation, will give a presentation, Saturday, June 15, at 6 p.m., at the Maine Lighthouse Museum, in Rockland, about the search effort and the book.
Sapienza is CEO of North South Polar, Inc. and a founding member of the FAVF, whose guiding principle is to “Honor the Promise” of “Leave No Man Behind.
He works closely with branches of the U.S. military, Homeland Security and the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA).
As member of the Greenland Expedition Society WWII P-38 Recovery Team during the early 1990s he participated in three expeditions that developed the technologies and equipment that recovered a WWII P-38 Lighting fighter plane from 24 stories beneath the ice sheet surface. He served as the mission’s principal photographer, and his work was used extensively in the History Channel’s The Hunt for the Lost Squadron.
Sapienza has completed six expeditions to Greenland, three of them for the U.S. Coast Guard and Defense Department. The expeditions have led closer to the discovery of a J2F-4 Grumman Duck amphibious biplane containing three heroic American servicemen who had been missing since November 29, 1942.
Sapienza travels the world as a professional photographer. His work has appeared in LIFE magazine, National Geographic, Forbes, Paris Match, and Gulliver (Italy), as well as numerous other international publications and corporate annual reports.
Sapienza is an elected member of the New York-based Explorer’s Club.
He will have copies of Mitchell Zuckoff's book Frozen in Time for those who would like to purchase a copy. A suggested donation of $5 would be appreciated by the museum.
Excerpt from Mitchell Zuckoff’s Frozen in Time.
“IT’S A POWERFUL and unsettling experience to be drawn into the orbit of someone possessed by an impossible dream. At times I wondered if Lou Sapienza would awake and abandon his quixotic plan to find three airmen entombed in a glacier. Or maybe he’d suffer one too many sacrifices and surrender to self-preservation. But no matter how many setbacks Lou faced, nothing deterred him. The Duck Hunt expedition was the accomplishment of a rare and remarkable man. If I’m ever lost, I hope that Lou decides that I need to be found.”