CASCO TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- 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. The plane was piloted by an Elgin native who died while trying to parachute from the craft.
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 native of Elgin, assigned to the 94th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Selfridge air base in Michigan, Jim Clary told the Times Herald of Port Huron.
Voss was killed trying to parachute from the diving plane on Oct. 15, 1941, the Daily Tribune of Royal Oak reported.
"He is an unsung hero," said Jim Clary of St. Clair, who along with his fellow searchers uncovered several shards of the plane about 8 inches down in the dirt.
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.