AOM1c Anthony Dipetta Repatriated

DPAA Accounts for AOM1c Anthony Di Petta


March 13, 2023


The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced that, in partnership with Project Recover and other experts in the field, they accounted for AOM1c Anthony Di Petta. AOM1c Di Petta was an ordnanceman on a TBM-1c Avenger who, until this announcement, was Missing in Action. Project Recover located and documented Di Petta’s downed Grumman TBM-1c Avenger in Palauan waters in 2015. In partnership with DPAA, Project Recover recovered MIAs from the Avenger during our first MIA Recovery Mission in 2021. 

Anthony Di Petta
AOM1c Anthony Di Petta

On September 10, 1944, the crew took off from the USS Enterprise to bomb antiaircraft positions and transport ships on and near Malakal Harbor in Palau. They were members of Torpedo Squadron 20 (VT-20). The USS Enterprise was there along with 15 other aircraft carriers, all a part of Task Force 38. They were conducting pre-invasion strikes on Palau in preparation for the invasion of Peleliu. AOM1c Di Petta’s Avenger was last seen spinning violently at 5,000 feet, ultimately crashing in the water of Malakal Harbor. 

AOM1c Di Petta was declared Missing in Action. Di Petta was born in Italy but emigrated to the United States around 1921. He enlisted in the US Navy from New Jersey by 1940 and served as an ordnanceman on the TBM Avenger.

AOM1c Di Petta was survived by his mother and father, Filomena and Sisto Di Petta, and two siblings, Christine (Di Petta) Bitterle and Peter Di Petta.

Finding the TBM Avenger

Project Recover located the Grumman TBM-1c Avenger in the waters of Palau in 2015 during our third year in partnership with Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, and the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment, University of Delaware.

Initially, poor visibility and short bottom time led us to misidentify the aircraft as a Helldiver.  Upon closer investigation, including 14 dives to 112 ft, we got the proof we needed to confirm this was a TBM Avenger flown by Lt. Manown. Dr. Pat Scannon completed the site survey for DPAA.

In August 2021, Project Recover conducted its first MIA Recovery Mission and recovered the remains of Missing in Action service members from this site. AOM1c Di Petta was among them.

Ships of Discovery also conducted a recovery mission at the Manown Avenger crash site in 2019.

Flag Ceremony for Di Petta

We held a flag ceremony over the Avenger in 2015, as has been our tradition from the start. Pat began by describing what was happening in Palau late in the summer late of 1944. The events he described contrasted sharply with the day’s serene water and clear blue sky.  Pat read the names of the MIAs. Then, he recited the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon. 

The team folded one flag for each MIA associated with the crash site. CAPT Mickaila Johnston was selected to hold the flags until the MIAs were recovered, identified, and their next of kin had been notified.  

Soon the flag will be given to AOM1c Di Petta’s family in humble recognition of his service and sacrifice and the enduring cost to his family.

MIA Recovery Mission

In August 2021, Project Recover conducted an MIA Recovery Mission on the TBM-1c Avenger. In partnership with DPAA, SIO, and Legion Undersea Services, this endeavor marked Project Recover’s first MIA recovery mission. This accomplishment gives Project Recover the distinction of being the only non-government agency capable of all aspects of MIA Recovery, including research, search, documentation, and recovery of land or marine-based crash sites. 

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The MIA Recovery Mission involved a 20-member team that outfitted a barge to support the necessary operations, including surface-supplied diving, a recompression chamber, crane operations, and an archaeological station. 

In Project Recover’s article, MIA Recovery Mission in Palau, our photos tell the story of the people, diving, archaeology, and wreckage retrieval.

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  2. Bless the work of Project Recover! AOM1c Di Petta – we honor your service and sacrifice and are grateful you finally made it home. I hope someday to be able to welcome home Air Force Captain Ronald Bond.

  3. I think that what is being done is truly a great and noble deed. Not only are you bringing closure for the crew but the families. I know this very well because my Uncle 1st LT Harry L. McDonald and his crew B24 SN 42-40217 (Lone Wolf) are still out somewhere of the coast of Vella la Vella and I hope that one day he can be laid to rest with his parents. Job well done by all !

  4. My father Franklin T Strawn was shot down over Kyushu Bay July 1945. Aboard the Apache Princess..always wished he would be brought home..

  5. My father, John F. Dailey Jr, and his entire crew in their transport plane when missing on 15 October 1951 in a routine flight back from Europe. They left the Azores and were never heard from again. The Air Force conducted the largest search and no trace of the plane or crew was ever discovered.

  6. Welcome Home… I Salute You, a fellow Warrior and Defender of our Freedom and Liberty. Thank You for your Service and you Sacrifice. You are Not Forgotten. May your Spirit Rest in Eternal Peace.

  7. God has made free and successful your way back home🙏🏽!! Hallelujah! I’m tearing up right now and praying your family’s strength in the Lord. Thank you for your service. God bless you and your family🙏🏽. God bless the recovery agency for a job well done🙏🏽!!

  8. Thank you Project Recovery. I attended Anthony DiPetta’s service. He was my Uncle’s brother. His family is so thankful for the work that you do. We are all so happy to have him back home where he belongs.

  9. I was part of the Police escort for the funeral procession, it was an amazing day that I was honored to be a part of.

  10. This is great work. The Newark NJ Traffic Unit was honored to be a part of the funeral procession for Anthony Di Petta and more pictures can be found on our Instagram page at

  11. I watched Josh Gates in “Missing Heroes of WW2”, episode of Expedition Unknown aired on 11/25/23 on the Discovery Channel. I was so impressed with the work “Project Recover” has done.

    My father was in the Navy from April 1943 to April 1947, so I get a lump in my throat every time I see an enlisted man in their navy blue or white uniform. Luckily dad survived the war & I was born in 1951. Nanci Winchester Hawkins, daughter of Kenneth Alfred Winchester Coxswain.

  12. So glad you brought him home. God bless you for all the work you do and closure you bring. Rest in peace, thank you for honoring his service and ultimate service