.

Coast Guard Searches for Aviator, Cumming Native, 70 Years After Crash

Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms was a radioman on a Grumman Duck that crashed in Greenland during World World II on Nov. 29, 1942.

A portion of the original caption of this photo reads, "Lt. John A. Pritchard Jr. and Radioman Benjamin A. Bottoms, ready for the take-off." Credit: U.S. Coast Guard's Compass
A portion of the original caption of this photo reads, "Lt. John A. Pritchard Jr. and Radioman Benjamin A. Bottoms, ready for the take-off." Credit: U.S. Coast Guard's Compass
The body of a Cumming native and U.S. Coast Guard aviator who died during World War II attempting a rescue has never been found. But more than 70 years later, the remains of Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms may be recovered and returned to Georgia.

Bottoms, a radioman, and two other servicemen were aboard a J2F-4 amphibious Grumman aircraft when it crashed near Koge Bay, Greenland. It had been attempting to rescue a downed B-17 crew when it crashed on Nov. 29, 1942, according to the U.S. Coast Guard's official blog, Compass. 

“The three men aboard this aircraft were heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country,” Cmdr. Jim Blow, of the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Aviation Forces, told Compass. “The story of the Grumman Duck reflects the history and the mission of the Coast Guard, and by finding the aircraft we have begun to repay our country’s debt to them.” 

For three years, crews had been working together to find the aircraft and the remains of the three aboard by researching historical documentation about the flight. In January, the Defense Department’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command announced that an expedition team—comprised of U.S. Coast Guard servicemembers, scientists and explorers—had produced sufficient evidence that the crash site of the Grumman Duck had been found beneath the ice, according to Compass.

Bottoms' son, Edward Richardson, was just a boy when his 29-year-old father disappeared while away on a deployment, his aircraft crashing into a polar ice cap during a snowstorm, reports the Forsyth County News.

"I always had thought that maybe he was coming back, because my mother always believed that," Richardson told the newspaper. "I grew up without him. But I have memories of him, I have great memories."

Cumming City Councilman Rupert Sexton, a distant relative of Bottoms who maintains public ancestry information, was the link the Coast Guard used to find Richardson, who was adopted by his step-father after his mother remarried, according to the Forsyth County News.

"Not only is he a relative, but he lost his life trying to protect our nation," Sexton told the newspaper. "He put his life on the line for others...his remains need to be found and placed here in the state for his family."

Using historical information, ground penetrating radar, a magnetometer and metal detection equipment, an expedition team found about 38 feet below the surface of the ice cable wiring and components similar to those used in the engine of a Duck, according to Compass. A seven-day expiditon at a remote location on Greenland’s southeast coast resulted in joint teams—consisting of safety personnel and scientific analysts—finding Bottoms' Duck.

The Coast Guard now is coordinating efforts with the Joint POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Command on future actions.

Tell us what you think in the comments, share your photos and videos, and don’t miss any of the local news you care about—subscribe to Cumming Patch’s free newsletterlike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something