WWII Airmen Lost Honored and Memorialized


After nearly 74 years, six WWII Army Air Corp airmen who died in a B26 Marauder training crash on November 16, 1942, off the Florida coast, were recognized for their service with Military Honors in Fort Myers Beach, FL. Of the six crewmen, only Pilot Donald Vail and Co-Pilot Fred Dees were recovered and identified.

Lt. Fred Dees, Jr.
Burgaw, NC


S. Sgt. William Kittiko
Top Turret Gunner
McKeesport, PA


Lt. Louis Mikes
Queens, NY


S. Sgt. Milton Newton
Davidson, Nashville, TN


S. Sgt. Richard Treat
Marblehead, Essex, MA


Lt. Donald Vail

Macomb, IL


A UHE dive team discovered the crash site in 2008, more than 42 miles offshore in Fort Myers, FL. They researched the flight history and notified remaining family members at that time. 

The six-man crew was aboard the first of eight B26 planes from the 480th Bomb Squadron and 336th Bomb Group lost in training accidents between November 16, 1942, and November 15, 1943. Forty seven airmen died in total.

The ceremony was held on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016
at VFW Post 10097, Fort Myers Beach, FL.

External Reefs, Reef Innovations, and the Reef Ball Foundation partnered with
Underwater Historical Explorations (UHE) and VFW Post 10097, Fort Myers Beach, FL to honor and memorialize these men.

“One of the most gratifying things we do at Eternal Reefs is provide closure to families, “said George Frankel, CEO. “That’s exactly what we did on Memorial Day 2016 to honor the memory and sacrifice of these six WWII heroes.”

in memoriam-ceremony1

“I was just interested in respecting the dignity of my uncle and his crewmates, said Mark Casey, nephew of Top Turret Gunner, Tom Kittiko. “After all the years, I wanted to be sure the honors were bestowed correctly and their service and sacrifice properly recognized.”

More About Eternal Reefs, Inc.

Eternal Reefs, Inc. is a Sarasota based company that provides a creative, environmentally-enhancing way to memorialize passed loved ones. The company incorporates cremated remains into a concrete mixture used to cast artificial reef formations. Since 1998, the company has placed more than 1500 Memorial Reefs off the coasts of 25 locations, substantially increasing the ocean’s diminishing reef systems. Memorial reefs can only go on property permitted locations by the U.S. Government. Reef Innovations and the Reef Ball Foundation are strategic partners with Eternal Reefs.