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Three major events shortened the war with Japan and saved countless American lives; the atomic bomb; breaking the Japanese codes; and

discovery of:

The following text is from Jim Rearden's book "Koga's Zero"(Pictorial Histories Publishing Co., 713 S. 3rd St. West, 59801, Missoula, Montana). Jim lives in Homer, Alaska and spent un-tiring years researching material for this outstanding publication.!

The significance of the recovery and flight testing this famous World War II fighter, is best expressed by General Masatake Okumiya (Japanese Air Sea Defense Forces), in his book ZERO: "The acquisition of that ZERO (was) no less serious than the Japanese defeat at the Battle of Midway"

June 4, 1942. Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Three Japanese Zero fighter planes flew low over the tree-less green island of Akutan, 25 miles east of the American navy base at Dutch Harbor. One Zero, crippled by gun fire, following an air raid on Dutch Harbor, sought a place to land. At a grassy level valley floor, Flight Petty Officer Tadayoshi Koga, lowered wheels and flaps. As his wheels touched, the Zero flipped onto its back. The grassy flat was a bog. Seeing no signs of life, the remaining Zeros had orders to destroy the downed plane with gunfire, but fearing Koga might still be alive and recover to destroy the plane himself and make his way to the beach where a Japanese submarine waited to pick up downed pilots, they set course to return to their aircraft carrier. Five weeks later, the Zero with Koga's body still in it was spotted by a PBY Catalina patrol plane piloted by "Bill" Thies. Subsequently "Koga's Zero" was salvaged, repaired and flight tested. Until then, the mysterious Zero had out-flown every fighter plane that the Allies had thrown against it.

Koga's Mistake - Wheels are Down !

The PBY leaving Akutan Island after the discovery.

The First Salvage Party
(That's me taking notes)

One Month Later

Captain "Bill" Thies, U.S. Navy (Ret), was responsible for the discovery of Koga's Zero. In Sept. 2005, the History Channel filmed an interview with Bill about this discovery Titled - "Save Our History-Alaska's Bloodiest Battle". In the "Link" Bill on History Channel, Search for "Larson Thies".

Bill was awarded the Navy Cross, two Distinguished Flying Crosses and six Air medals for combat with the Japanese.

Bill - 1945

History Channel Producer Steve Thomas&Bill 2005

Last update:   April 1, 2010

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Playing - "Apollo"

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