Essential Pittsburgh
5:38 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Vanished: The Missing Men of WWII

Wil S. Hylton is a contributing writer at The New York Times Magazine, and author of Vanished: The 60 Year Search for the Missing Men of WWII
Credit Wil Hylton / Facebook

In his new book, Vanished: the Sixty-Year Search for the Missing Men of World War II, author Wil S. Hylton recounts the story of a group of missing WWII servicemen.

"The Big Stoop Crew" got it’s name from its commanding officer, Frank Arhar, a native of Johnstown. Described as a big, incredibly friendly man, his nickname “ Big Stoop” came from a popular friendly giant character in a popular 1940 serial film. Once the group got their own plane, they named it and their crew after him.

Hylton says he first discovered this story as an embedded journalist with the Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command, also known as J-PAC. Their mission is to track down missing aircraft from the last one hundred years of military conflict, and attempt to recover and identify the remains of military personnel.

“I stumbled upon it when we went to what would be the first of many sites on a barge in the South Pacific. As I stared down into the water and realized there was some kind of wreckage and some form of human remains below, it occurred to me that I wanted to find out as much as I could about that particular site and not see any of the other sites,” he says.