A PADI Pro’s Search For History

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The Kingfisher Project

In the September issue of Sport Diver magazine, PADI Diving Society interviewed Maj. Joshua Vance about his search for the Kingfisher. Check out his complete interview here:

PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Maj. Joshua Vance

PADI Diving Society member and PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Maj. Joshua Vance found a way to mix his love for the underwater world, his enthusiasm for history, and a career as a pilot for the Marines into a quest to recover a historical World War II plane. Read why Vance became a PADI Pro and how it led him to search for a naval aircraft.

PADI Diving Society: Why did you want to start diving?
Joshua Vance: I am an active-duty Marine KC-130 pilot and received orders to Okinawa, Japan, in August 2006. I became very interested in diving and was certified within a month of arriving on the island. Okinawa is some of the best diving I have done since I have been qualified, second only to Kwajalein.

Society: What has your experience been like as a PADI Professional?
Vance: My experience as a PADI professional has been amazing. It has been a true honor and privilege to teach people how to dive. Many of the people I have taught are active-duty service members and their family members. My most significant accomplishment as a PADI Pro was when I became an Open Water Scuba Instructor. It was a lot of hard work and worth every second!

Society: What is your role in the Marines?
Vance: I am currently serving at Quantico, Virginia, USA, fulfilling a Headquarters Marine Corps Staff Tour.  I enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1994 while in college. Upon graduation in May 1997, I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and served my first several years as an Infantry Officer. I then transitioned to be a pilot in May 2001. I have completed combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Society: What is your ultimate diving adventure?
Vance: My diving experiences have been nothing short of incredible. I am a history enthusiast, particularly WWII. I have had the privilege to dive WWII wrecks and airplanes in the Kwajalein lagoon several times with my good friend Dan Farnham, a fellow PADI Diver and WWII history enthusiast. On each WWII wreck and airplane we have dived, we take great care of the wrecks and make sure to not disturb anything in any way or form. There is so much history there that must be left undisturbed so that others may have the opportunity to experience this history in the future.

Dan Farnham

Society: How did you get started with the Kingfisher Project?
Vance: My role in the Kingfisher search began last August when Dan mentioned that he was working on locating an aircraft lost in 1944, on the day U.S. Forces landed on Kwajalein Atoll. He gave me the names of the pilot and radioman who were flying that day. The pilot was lost after the aircraft was shot down by enemy fire, but the radioman successfully ditched the aircraft and survived. I tracked down the radioman, Harrison “Dub” Miller, who is 94 years old, and had the privilege to speak with him, as well as two crew members of the Yard Mine Sweeper (YMS) ship that came in to pick him up; those gentlemen are 89 and 88. One of them jumped into the lagoon to aid the radioman aboard the YMS and the other man pulled him aboard the vessel. These men are true heroes. I’ll be escorting the veterans back to Kwajalein later this year to visit the site.

Read about Josh’s search for the Kingfisher and stay tuned to the PADI Blog for more updates as Josh and his good friend Dan work to recover the sunken plane!