WWII-Era Plane Pulled From Lake Michigan Has Valley Connection
FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH) —
On this 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a long forgotten relic from World War II was pulled from Lake Michigan.
An enormous crane tenderly lifted the FM-2 Wildcat fighter plane out of Lake Michigan, a dream more than a year in the making for 78-year-old Charles Greenhill, a pilot and military veteran who helped fund the project.
Charles Greenhill says, "You can begin to feel it, the rudder peddles work and the stick was there and it was really an airplane. I can't believe it, we will bring this old bird back to life."
This particular plane went into the lake on December 28, 1944, after its pilot, Ensign William E. Forbes experienced engine failure during takeoff attempts from the U.S.S. Sable.
Although Forbes escaped, the plane rolled off the bow of the ship and sank.
After Forbes's military service ended, he traveled to Fresno.
He attended and graduated from Fresno State in 1948, as class president.
He later went on to have a prominent career as a Fresno attorney.
Forbes's daughter, Chris Smith, was not able to attend Friday's event.
She did say she was excited her father's plane would be restored and placed in a museum.
Chris Smith says, "It was so paramount to my father and of course to us, and our greatest concern was that history will be lost, and I think its imperative it remain on the front burner and these stories need to be retold and kept alive."
Forbes's legacy is alive and well on the campus of Fresno State.
When Forbes was a Fresno State board member, he helped lead the campaign to build the alumni house.
Fresno State alum says, "Bill bled bulldog red."
As for the plane, it was intact. The wings were attached, along with the propeller. Even one of the tires remained full of air, despite being some 200 feet below the surface.