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An Emotional Voyage: World War II Veteran Leads Expedition to Find Warship Wreckage 50 Years After it Sank Beneath Him

Aired November 23, 2000 - 1:47 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A World War II veteran has made an incredible discovery at the bottom of the sea. He led an expedition to find the wreckage of his warship, more than 50 years after it sank beneath him.

CNN's David George has the story from California.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID GEORGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Angaur Island was one of the last stepping stones on the Allies' road to Tokyo.

Today, on Angaur and its northern neighbor, Peleliu, you see the scars and relics of the month-long battle that killed 20,000 on both sides. In the caves, where the Japanese made their last stand, bones of long-dead defenders lie entombed where they fell 56 years ago.

And out there, in nearly 300 feet of water, is another tomb: the USS Perry, sunk by a Japanese mine on September 13, 1944. Six men went down with the ship; two died later. The remaining 120 crew were rescued.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who remembers a guy named Cole (ph)?

GEORGE: Larry Tunks (ph) was manning one of the Perry's port guns when the order came to abandon ship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Men were shooting at us with rifles from the beach. It was that close.

GEORGE: After the war, Larry Tunks, like millions of others, came home, got on with his life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came home and went to work. We forgot about it.

GEORGE: Then, a book, Tom Brokaw's "The Greatest Generation," awakened 50-year-old memories. Tunks decided to go back to Angaur to find the Perry. He set out last May with a local team of expert divers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And as we went in, I watched the island, and it was just almost like seeing the island 50-something years before. I said: This is where it's at.

GEORGE: And so it was. And when the divers came up, breaking the surface with shouts and high-fives, well...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I yanked off all my clothes, jumped in the water, swam out, got in-between them, and we had quite a festivious time out there with the three of us.

GEORGE: Why did he do it after all those years? Chuck Archer (ph) was on one of the ships that came to the Perry's rescue back in 1944.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a funny feeling that it had to be the shipmates calling him: Do it. Find me. That's what I feel.

GEORGE: The leader of the dive team was an Israeli named Navot (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Navot came over and put his arm around me and said: I'm not too much on some of the religious beliefs and stuff, but he says, I really think somebody's looking out for you. I found my ship.

GEORGE: David George, CNN, San Jose, California.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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