The long-suspected final resting place of a military plane that disappeared after taking off from Seattle more than 70 years ago was formally recognized this week by an official of the US Navy.
A mother’s search for aviator who went missing 70 years ago
Families of the two naval aviators aboard – 23-year-old Ensign Gaston Mayes and 25-year-old Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Benjamin Vreeland – were notified of a decision made by the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington D.C.
This formal recognition will likely pave the way for dedication of a monument to the missing men.
Based on new research and on the results of a recent search conducted by two local military aviation history enthusiasts – Lee Corbin and Shawn Murphy – the Navy now believes the missing plane and the two aviators are likely in Black Lake in east King County.
“That was good news,” said David Mayes of Carey, North Carolina as he described how he felt when Lee Corbin called earlier this week to let him know of the Navy’s decision regarding his long-missing uncle, Gaston Mayes.
Daniel Vreeland, nephew of the other missing pilot Benjamin Vreeland, was equally pleased.
“This is probably some of the better news I’ve heard ever about this whole thing,” Vreeland said by phone from near his home in Austin, Texas.
Though both David Mayes and Daniel Vreeland were born after the plane went missing with their uncles aboard, to hear each describe the effects of the tragedy, both families have wrestled with loss,

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