August 5, 2010 - Media Release No. 33-2010 (in part)
U.S. AMBASSADOR PARTICIPATES IN WWII MEMORIAL DEDICATION
On July 24-28, U.S. Ambassador to the FSM Peter A. Prahar traveled to Yap State to participate in the dedication ceremony of the Ensign Joseph E. Cox Memorial, named in honor of a U.S. naval pilot whose F6F-5 Hellcat fighter plane was shot down over Yap on September 6, 1944. Members of the Cox family, including Joseph's brother, as well as members of the family of Ensign Howard Holding, who was killed in the same mission, were honored guests at the ceremony. Yap State Governor Sebastian Anefal and Lieutenant Governor Tony Tareg also took part in the well-attended event.
Spearheaded by U.S.-based Missing Air-Crew Project and History Flight Organization and with the support of the Yap State Visitor's Bureau and the Yap State Departments of Public Works and Public Safety, the memorial recognizes the over thirty-six American planes shot down in WWII near Yap State and the 110 American men who remain missing in action. In his remarks, Ambassador Prahar stated that: "These individuals and organizations have teamed up to ensure that at long last there is a proper, permanent memorial to Ensign Joseph E. Cox and all the other men who lost their lives near Yap during World War II, some of whose remains have not yet been recovered."
Ambassador Prahar also said "I can't think of any greater honor for an American Ambassador than to stand before the families of servicemen who have fallen in defense of freedom in order to recognize their service and to ensure that their sacrifice will not be forgotten." Speaking about those killed in Yap during WWII, the Ambassador said that "Those who knew these heroes personally carried with them throughout their lives the sacred memory of their beloved son, brother, husband, and father who gave his life so that others may live in peace and freedom I can also assure you that their sacrifice and the sacrifice of the other servicemen who died here have not been forgotten by the people of Yap." He quoted the American author James Michener's "Tales of the South Pacific": "They will live a long time. They had an American quality."
The Ambassador also recognized Mark Mathow, the brother of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Steven G. Bayow who was killed in action in Iraq in 2005, and Robert Finniginam, father of Specialist Eric Finniginam, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on May 1st of this year.
Representing U.S. Navy Commander of the Marianas (COMNAVMARIANAS) Rear Admiral Paul Bushong, Military and Civilian Affairs Commander Bryce Gibb thanked FSM citizens who fight alongside U.S. citizens in the U.S. Armed Forces worldwide. Cdr. Gibb rendered the military honors and presented American flags to the Cox and Holding families.
For further information contact the U.S. Embassy
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Ellis Cox and daughters Joyce Chitwood, and Lavona Smith (not pictured) came to Yap for the memorial dedication of Ens. Joseph Cox’s WWII Hellcat in honor of all the MIA on Yap on July 27, 2010. Following the memorial service, the family stated “We were overwhelmed by the respect given for our brother/uncle from the wonderful people of Yap and by the many dignitaries who came to express their honor. The united effort (by the community and organizations) to recover, display and dedicate Joe’s plane is itself a tribute to the best of human kindness. Our visit, from Spokane WA., was a delightful adventure and Yap is a wonderful place to visit."