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Mich. Men Unearth Pieces Of Downed WWII-Era Plane

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P-38s Selfridge Field  1941 copy

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CASCO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - Four men have unearthed pieces of what they say is a World War II-era fighter plane that crashed 71 years ago in a southeastern Michigan farm field.

Jim Clary, his brother, Ben – an 88-year-old WWII veteran – and two other men used metal detectors to make the find Friday in St. Clair County’s Casco Township just east of Richmond.

The recovered fragments are from a P-38D Lightning that was piloted by 2nd Lt. Al Voss, a 23-year-old native of Elgin, Ill., assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge air base in Michigan, Jim Clary said.

Voss was killed trying to parachute from the diving plane on Oct. 15, 1941, according to Clary.

“This is an unsung hero,” said Clary of St. Clair, who along with his fellow searchers uncovered several shards of the plane about 8 inches down in the dirt.

“This is a pilot who lost his life in an effort to perfect these planes for a war effort … that was coming, he thought,” said Clary. “So, it’s kinds of neat that he might be honored, you know, close to Veterans’ Day.”

As part of his effort to determine the point of impact, Clary, who lived in Richmond as a boy and remembered hearing accounts of the crash, studied copies of investigation documents, old news articles and Google Earth and talked to a 92-year-old woman who witnessed the crash.

The search party then had to wait for a soybean crop to be harvested before they could begin really looking.

Clary and his partners plan to give the largest artifacts to a museum at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

The P-38D was part of the Army Air Force, 94th Pursuit Squadron, which had been stationed at Selfridge. The squadron had camouflaged paint schemes that were identical to the colors found on scraps of aluminum recovered from the crash site.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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