The last time we heard from George G. Fabik was when the retired naval officer drew attention to the remains of five U.S. Navy airmen sitting above ground in Greenland, where they perished in 1962 while hunting for Russian submarines.
"They are not under ice, but visible every summer when the snow melts," he told The Beltway Beat. "This has to be considered a national disgrace. They did die in the service of their country."
So Fabik and others, including Bob Pettway, a former Navy radio operator and retired Secret Service agent, set out to bring the remains home. And some 42 years later - in September 2004 - a U.S. military and civilian team successfully completed the mission.
At the time, Mike Maus of the Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, told us by telephone from Norfolk that a recovery of bodies is as important for the Navy as it is for families.
"We in the Navy feel very strongly about not leaving anybody behind - ever. We always want to bring our people home," he said.
This week, Fabik told us that a similar recovery mission at a separate naval crash site was set to begin this December. "Then the roof caved in," he says.
"A Navy seaplane involved in the mapping of the Antarctic continent in 1946 with Admiral Richard Byrd crashed after hitting a mountain," he educates. "Of the 10 crew on board, seven survived and three died.
"After the recovery of the Greenland aircrew, plans for the recovery of the remains in the Antarctic were set in motion. People from the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey and others were brought together. A Chilean Air Force aircraft with ground penetrating radar was sent to the site and pinpointed the location of the wreckage."
Even a geologist working in the area forwarded his notes to the Navy "and everything was set for a recovery in December 2005-January 2006 (that's summer in the Antarctic)," Fabik notes.
It is the retired aviator's understanding that the recovery mission was scrubbed by Rear Adm. H. Denby Starling II, who became the 26th commander of Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, in July 2004.
He paraphrased the admiral as saying such a mission would be "too dangerous for my sailors."
"I flew the same flights as these men, so I know what they were doing for our country," says Fabik, who served 30 years in naval aviation before his retirement. "Now, what do the families do?"
There still may be hope.
Requesting anonymity, an officer for the Atlantic Fleet in Norfolk told this columnist that "there has been no hard decision" either way on the proposed mission, adding that a final decision "still resides with the chief of naval operations."
John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on Townhall.com and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .
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