World War II plane wreckage discovered on Oregon Coast

World War II plane wreckage discovered on Oregon Coast
Six SB2Cs flying in formation, circa 1944. Courtesy of Captain George E. Ford, USN (Retired), 2007. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

TILLAMOOK, Ore. - Loggers working in the forest near Rockaway Beach, Ore., stumbled upon a World War II-era U.S. Navy airplane last Thursday, Oregon State Police said.

The loggers called police, who then called the Navy. The first officers on the scene said they believe there may be human remains inside the wreckage.

The plane is a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver.

A small team of Navy investigators was at the crash site Thursday collecting evidence and taking photos. They will send the evidence to a special team at the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Accounting Command in Hawaii.

"They have a really big team of people who take that information and cross check it with information they have," said Sean Hughes, a Navy public affairs officer.

Bomb squad technicians also checked the site and did not find any signs of unexploded ordinance.

The plane was found in a heavily wooded area. Police officers who were on the scene reported seeing a wing, tail section, landing gear and other debris. The wreckage is spread over a 200 yard area.

Hughes said it's too early to tell where the plane originally came from, however Naval Air Station Tillamook was in use just 20 miles away until it was decommissioned in 1948. Still, Hughes said there were countless flights up and down the coast during the war.

Investigators know the Helldiver was used during World War II, but don't know exactly when this plane might have crashed. If records from that era of a missing plane near Tillamook still exist, they haven't been uncovered yet.

Right now, Hughes said the Navy's first priority is maintaining the integrity of the crash site and getting evidence to the more specialized investigators.

"If there are human remains on board, they are one of our fallen shipmates and they need to be treated with integrity, and so do their families," he said.