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Bend man’s work to help bring home MIAs featured in new documentary

Special showing of 'To What Remains' coming up Jan. 20 at Tower Theatre

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – More than 75 years after the end of World War II, around 80,000 American troops remain missing in action, their final resting place unknown. A new documentary, “To What Remains,” screening at Bend's Tower Theatre on Thursday, Jan. 20, tells the story of one group’s efforts to bring them home -- and a Bend man's key role in the effort.

Since 199,3 Project Recover has been working to bring closure to the families of the missing by using advanced technology and historic records to locate crash sites and when possible, to repatriate the remains of the fallen.

A small but determined non-profit, the Project Recover team includes scientists, historians, and military veterans. As Dr. Pat Scannon, co-founder of the organization, states in the film: “An MIA family never puts away the loss of somebody who hasn’t been able to return home. To give something back for the sacrifices that have been made is just very important to me.”

“To What Remains” goes on-site and in-depth with the team to tell the story of the organization’s challenging but rewarding missions. Viewers take an emotional journey to honor the fallen, from the discovery of wreckage on the South Pacific seafloor, to the living room of a stunned family, and finally to a well-deserved resting place at home.

One review calls the film: “Breathtaking story of quiet heroism. Incredible.” “To What Remains” was featured earlier this month on “Anderson Cooper Full Circle,” and Cooper dove with the Project Recover team in Palau in 2014.

“It was an amazing, incredible experience,” said Cooper. “Palau is an area that some pilots who flew around called ‘a forgotten corner of hell.’ A lot of aircraft went down there.”

To date, Project Recover has conducted more than 60 missions in more than 20 countries to locate more than 60 missing aircraft and more than 200 associated MIAs.  Hear the full story when “To What Remains” plays on Thursday, Jan. 20 at the Tower Theatre in Bend. Doors open at 6:30pm. Advance tickets are now available, with discounts for active duty military and veterans.

In 2019, the president/CEO of Project Recover, Marine Corps veteran Derek Abbey, Ph.D., and his wife Michelle moved to Bend from San Diego. Abbey coordinates the international efforts of Project Recover.

Abbey told NewsChannel 21 on Saturday some families they've worked with make up stories about what happened to their loved ones. But Project Recover has given them answers, and peace of mind.

"Now they have that truth, and the grieving process can continue," Abbey said. "The myth of this family member is now truth, and they can move on with it -- and it's incredible the impact it has. Not only on the family members, but we've witnessed entire communities around them come together, not only to memorialize this loss when this person's repatriated, but also celebrate the sacrifice they made."

More than 80 future missions have been identified, with the goal of bringing closure to the families of the remaining 80,000 Americans missing in action.

Abbey said he believes the film will have a big impact on Central Oregon.

"Central Oregon is incredibly supportive of the military community, and so I think they're going to find a connection to this film in multiple ways," he said. "And it just shows that this work is happening in their backyard and in Bend. We truly believe that this isn't my mission, this isn't just our team's mission -- this is every American's mission."

Learn more:

Project Recover websitehttps://www.projectrecover.org
“To What Remains” website and trailerhttps://www.towhatremains.org

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.

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