This summer, UH West Oʻahu Assistant Professor of Archaeology, William Belcher, UH West Oʻahu students Tracy Dixon and Michael Oras, and UH Mānoa student Christal Quinn traveled to the Republic of Palau to research possible World War II remains. The team is currently mapping a large area in central Babelthaup Island using a total station transit system, and GPS and geographic information system (GIS) to record archaeological features including building foundations, power systems, storage platforms and more. Their work sets the stage for future archaeological research in the area.
“Participating in this project has been a great experience and a privilege,” said UH West Oʻahu archaeology student Michael Oras. “Not only are we getting in-depth experience in field archaeology, we are also assisting in the efforts to bring some of our country’s fallen soldiers home. I think about that a lot while I’m out here.”
UH West Oʻahu archaeology student Tracy Dixon commented, “This has been an amazing opportunity to practice historical archaeology and look into one of the lingering mysteries of World War II in Palau.”
Earlier in spring 2016, Dr. William Belcher and two UH West Oʻahu students excavated in the Republic of Palau at an alleged World War II POW execution area associated with the Kempaitai, a Japanese military police unit.
The current survey of Area B in the Republic of Palau is made possible by the Bent Prop Project, a private, non-governmental organization. The group has worked for the last 20 years searching and identifying numerous archaeological sites associated with missing U.S. service members from World War II.