“I embarked on a mission of a lifetime,” said Denson, a graduate of Howard University. “One that would touch our hearts and souls.”
Early last summer, Denson and six other underwater explorers made history by conducting a five-day archeological survey of a Bell P-39Q Airacobra fighter plane piloted by 2nd Lt. Frank Moody, a 22-year-old Tuskegee Airman from Los Angeles. After crashing his plane on April 11, 1944, his body washed ashore in Port Huron, Michigan, a few months later.
“We are not allowed to disturb or recover artifacts without permits,” he said. “I am making a recommendation to recover some selected artifacts, but not the entire aircraft.” Lusardi said that it would be expensive to remove the complete airplane.
The team that worked with Lusardi also included members from the Diving With a Purpose (DWP) Maritime Archaeology Program and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The DWP program consists mainly of members from the National Association of Black Scuba Divers (NABS). The program started as a partnership with the National Park Service to help document historic shipwrecks in Florida’s Biscayne National Park and to teach divers the basic techniques of underwater archeology.
“These pilots were scholars with degrees from some of our country’s finest colleges and universities,” she said. “They were only limited, in some instances, by their color. But they were strong and courageous. I left Lake Huron with a commitment to help tell their story — who they were and what they did from our perspective. We must tell our own history.”
When the five-day mission ended, Denson brought a wreath aboard the dive boat and asked his fellow scuba divers to say a few words to commemorate the Tuskegee Airmen.
Quotes credited to the West side Gazette .