Task Force Dagger Foundation and East Carolina University Team up to Explore Underwater WWII Sites

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Task Force Dagger Foundation partners with East Carolina University's Maritime Studies Program to explore and research WWII sites in the western Pacific.

Dr. Jennifer McKinnon investigates a Kawanishi H8K Japanese seaplane. (Photo by Jon Carpenter)

Task Force Dagger, a nonprofit organization that supports all U.S. Special Operations Command service members and their families, is joining forces with the East Carolina University Department of History’s maritime studies program to explore and research WWII underwater archaeological sites in the western Pacific.

Task Force Dagger, a nonprofit organization that supports all U.S. Special Operations Command service members and their families, is joining forces with the East Carolina University Department of History’s maritime studies program to explore and research WWII underwater archaeological sites in the western Pacific.

The maritime studies program has several faculty and staff that work on military-related and WWII archaeological sites all over the world.

Associate professor Dr. Jennifer McKinnon has been working on military sites in the Pacific for nearly 10 years. In partnership with Ships of Exploration and Discovery and the local community of Saipan, McKinnon developed the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail: Battle of Saipan in 2009. The heritage trail consists of nine underwater U.S. and Japanese sites in Saipan’s crystal-clear, tropical lagoons. The sites include amphibious vehicles such as landing vehicles and tanks, aircraft, and shipwrecks, all lost in the 1944 Battle of Saipan.

McKinnon said that the partnership with Task Force Dagger is a boon for continuing to research these sites. “Active military and veterans have an incredible firsthand knowledge of warfare, tactics and military material,” she said. “Their knowledge and experience has the potential to contribute so much to the research we are conducting in the Pacific. It really is a reciprocal relationship.”

Charles “Keith” David, managing director of Task Force Dagger and retired U.S. Army Special Forces, said the organization is looking forward to solidifying the collaboration through a memorandum of agreement and seeking grant funding for the project.

The Task Force Dagger Foundation will join McKinnon and the maritime studies program next summer in a special recreational therapy adaptive event that trains special operations command service members in scuba diving and underwater archaeology. The team will then travel to Saipan to continue locating and recording WWII underwater archaeological sites.

TFD is looking forward to the relationship with ECU and building a program through which veterans and active service members can train in archaeological methods and assist in future efforts to recover lost service members whose remains are still lost at sea

For more information about Task Force Dagger visit https://www.taskforcedagger.org/. For more information about the WWII Maritime Heritage Trail visit http://www.pacificmaritimeheritagetrail.com/.

Contact: Dr. Jennifer McKinnon, mckinnonje(at)ecu.edu, 252-328-6788

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