Monday, November 19, 2007


Little did I thought that the news of discovery of wreckage of WWII B-24 aircraft somewhere in Arunachal Pradesh that appeared in the local dailies of the state quite sometimes back, could be of any importance (I just didn't paid much heed to that news item that time and guess those of you who had come across this news in the local dailies did the same too), until I received this mail from Gary Zaetz (reproduced below).

I am an American from Cary, North Carolina. For many years, I had known that my uncle, U.S. Army Air Force 1st Lt. Irwin "Zipper" Zaetz, had disappeared along with his entire crew on January 25, 1944 when his B-24 Liberator aircraft "Hot as Hell" failed to arrive at its destination of Chabua, Assam on a flight over the "Hump" from Kunming, China. Then, this past summer, I was surprised to learn while surfing the Internet that an American investigator, Mr. Clayton Kuhles, had discovered this aircraft while searching for aircraft wrecks in Arunachal Pradesh in December 2006. According to the report he filed with the US Government, the wreckage was found in the mountains of the district of East Siang. Since learning this news, my father and wife and I have spent every spare moment searching for relatives of the other crewmen, and working with the US Government to arrange the sending of a recovery team to the site of the crash, where human remains are reported to have been found. We are hoping that the Government of India, the Government of the State of Arunachal Pradesh, and the US Government will cooperate, in the spirit of humanitarianism, to recover the bodies of our loved ones and return them to us. If you are interested in more information on this, or would be willing to assist us in this effort, please email me at Thank you for this opportunity to get the word out about this matter of great importance to eight families.
I request all my readers from East Siang District and Arunachal Pradesh as a whole to come forward and help locate the mortal remains of all the 8 crew members of that ill-fated B-24 aircraft, so that they may be given a 'permanent resting place'. Any information related to the wreckage of B-24 or of the mortal remains of the crew members may be mailed at or at arunachaldiary[at]


  • Anonymous

    As a follow-up to my original letter to Arunachal Diary, Major Brian DeSantis of the US Defense Department's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) has recently stated that instability in the area of the crash site makes a recovery mission difficult. With all due respect to Major DeSantis, this statement is not supported by the facts. The families have been informed directly by The Hon. Tapir Gao, a member of the Indian Parliament representing Arunachal Pradesh, the state where the crash site was found, that the law and order situation there is quite good. Furthermore, the US State Department's Consular Sheet on India does not include the state of Arunachal Pradesh in the list of northeastern Indian states that are known to have experienced ethnic separatist violence.
    Furthermore, there is no evidence to substantiate Major DeSantis' claim that JPAC requested approvals to access the crash site of the "Hot as Hell" almost a year ago, and has been waiting for those approvals that whole time. In fact, it was only this past month that the families were informed by the US Embassy in New Delhi that the US Government contacted the Indian Government for the first time about this site in early December 2007. The families themselves contacted senior Indian Government officials in November 2007, and these officials confirmed at that time that JPAC had still not notified the Indian Government about the crash site, eleven months after Mr. Clayton Kuhles of Prescott, Arizona reported his discovery to JPAC. That's the real reason why no approvals were forthcoming from the Indian Government. JPAC simply failed to notify the Indian Government about the crash site's existence. Thanks to the US Embassy in New Delhi, the Indian Government was finally notified.

    Gary Zaetz,
    Nephew of 1st Lt. Irwin G. Zaetz, navigator of the USAAF B-24 "Hot as Hell"

  • buru


    East Siang district is as peaceful as it gets. With some confidence I would say East Siang is more peaceful than any part of USA, Alaska included.

    Only 2 provinces of Arunachal are affected by insurgency--Tirap & Changlang. Even there,the Christian Naga insurgents scrupulously avoid harming Western travellers if any, as their economic backers are based in US(i.e. Rich white evangelicals)

  • AG

    I'm really shocked by the apathy shown by JPAC to the families in carrying out recovery mission citing the area of crash site to be disturbed. But nevertheless I'm happy for the families that finally the US Embassy in New Delhi has informed the Indian Government about the crash site even though it was bit late. Hope that the Indian Government would extend all possible help to recover the mortal remains.

    As far as safety and stability of Arunachal is concerned, Buru has rightly put it, except for Tirap and Changlang Districts rest of the Arunachal Pradesh is as peaceful and safe as any part of US.

  • Anonymous

    I was recently notified by Air Commodore Rakesh K. Jolly, the Indian Air Attache in Washington, that the joint Indo-US Defense Policy Group concluded during its meeting in Washington last week an historic agreement allowing joint US-Indian MIA recovery operations in India's Northeast. He reports major progress toward the recovery of the remains of the crew of the American aircraft "Hot as Hell", which my uncle served and died on during the Second World War, from its crash site in Arunachal Pradesh. The families of the "Hot as Hell" crew are profoundly grateful to all involved in this decision, especially US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Ambassador Eric Edelman, Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, JPAC Commander RADM Donna Crisp, the Director for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, Amb. Charles Ray, former Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, Arunachal Pradesh MP Tapir Gao, US Sen. Bernie Sanders, as well as the US Embassy and Consular Staffs in India, and the Indian Embassy in Washington.
    Gary Zaetz, Nephew of 1st Lt. Irwin G. Zaetz, navigator of the "Hot as Hell"

  • EmoreL

    Glad to hear that.

  • AG

    Indeed glad to hear that Gary. With the agreement-hope the mortal remains of your uncle and those of the crew members are recovered soon.

  • Techi Takang

    I am being a son of great and beautiful land called Arunachal Pradesh,however residing at outside arunachal pradesh,I am always wish to know more and more about Arunachal Pradesh but I can't meet whatever I want.Right from now,I hope that,only Arunachal Diary can bring me all that, I can know about all around the Arunachal Pradesh.Further I hope,The Arunachal Diary will also help me to know me the panchayat political scenerio of the state.
    With lots of regards to the member "Arunachal Diary"

    Techi Takang

    From:Arunachal Pradesh,now in Mumbai(Maharastra)

  • AG

    @techi takang,
    Thanks for the nice words...hope Arunachal Diary is able to fulfill the aspirations of the readers like you and let you be in touch with the state, no matter wherever you are. And at Arunachal Diary it would be our endeavour to bridge this gap between you and the state. So do keep visiting.

  • Anonymous

    While we're all thanking Gary for his nice letters, I wonder what's so special about those fallen planes. Just some good old wreckage, right? Noting to go crazy about. He's not gonna find the lieutenant in there.
    Or is all the ceremony in aid of a white man?

  • wiian

    Anonymous said...

    It's not about the plane, dear anonymous. It's about family ties, the humane intent even after 60 years since the plane crashed. I can feel for the white man trying everything he possibly could, posting his messages across every channel where he sees might lead him to further information about his deceased uncle.

    I wish I was of help in some way. Having said that, knowing that a person is helping himself, I would always help a stranger than a friend or a relative with no intent or purpose in life whatsoever.

  • AG

    Not to be rude, but I am quite taken aback by the heartless attitude shown by you. As put by wiian, it's all about family ties and human emotions and all AD is trying to do is help Gary and family members of those gone missing some 6 decades ago, find the mortal remains of their dear ones so that they could give them a proper resting place. And that's a humanitarian gesture from AD nothing more nothing less and I'd be very glad if this post on AD was of help to those family members to help them locate the mortal remains.

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