Dive into TRUK [Chuuk] Lagoon Underwater Gallery. This page is dedicated to the memory of Jim Church.
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Truk (CHUUK) Lagoon
The 549 south Pacific islands of Micronesia are located southeast of Guam, and almost entirely north of the equator, within a major group called the Caroline Islands. Today known as Federated States of Micronesia, its total land area is about 430 square miles.Approximately 900 miles east of Yap is the Truk group. Comprising about 70 tiny islands within a reef-surrounded almost 40 mile diamater circular lagoon.
The Japanese used this lagoon during World War II as a major naval base, sometimes referred to as the Japanese Pearl Harbor.
Early during 1944, the Japanese Imperial fleet was caught off the coast of Truk (now called CHUUK) lagoon.
Operation HAILSTONE inflicted major damage to the Japanese Fleet.
Inside the lagoon, millions of tons of ships and aircraft were sunk by the American armed forces.
My father was serving abroad the US destroyer USS Stephen Potter - DD538..
I was later named for that ship.
He regales me with stories of their taskforce impaling many rounds of large shells on those islands, "...blowing them to HELL" are more correctly his words.
The Stephen Potter was also credited with sinking a Japanese submarine during that operation.
I was fortunate to have dived here the first time (around 1979) when fewer than 1000 divers had explored the shipwrecks.
I was also honored to meet Kimiuo Aisek, the native who as a boy witnessed the attack. He is credited with finding most of the wrecks now enjoyed by divers.
The wrecks were in admirable condition and even the skeletal remains were still to be found.
I photographed that solemn graveyard with all due reverence.
My goal was preservation of that hallowed sea.
Quality of pictures was second priority to non-disturbance.
Years later, I returned to Chuuk and was disappointed to find many of the artifacts removed. The Japanese government had paid to exhume the skeletal remains and hold a cremation ceremony. Regretfully, I also found divers had plundered the wrecks and removed souvenirs.
It always inspires me to realize how God, the Great Architect of the Universe, can take the destructive forces of mankind and erase their brutality. With His infinite wisdom He transformed those monuments of destruction into the most breathtaking displays of His vibrant art. I humbly and tearfully submit these photographs for you to enjoy and remember His omnipotent presence.
Return to NoCents in the near future for more spectacular photographs taken underwater from all over the world. One memorable odyssey started with a flight to Cairnes, Australia, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, and the Coral Sea. After way too brief a stay, we flew on to Papua New Guinea and a few dives. We then boarded the "Frontier Spirit" and began over two weeks on that ship cruising the seas of Melanesia. Diving at least twice a day on new islands. We disembarked at Honoria Guadacannal, flew back to Sidney Australia and way too quickly returned home. A true once in a lifetime expedition.
I am also planning to show The Red Sea underwater - maybe a video.
Jim Church was a teacher, my underwater photography mentor, and a friend - He died in December 2002 before seeing this. I traveled over 15 times with Jim, taking repeat courses. I kept telling him he was a bad teacher because I never learned anything. He had a different opinion - and so did I.
The truth is: I enjoyed his subtle humor, his easy unassuming nature, his enthusiasm for travel to the submerged world, and his knowledge of underwater photography.
"MR. CHURCH, - - I will miss you Sir".
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