By Rachel M. Anderson The Last Lightning cover

(Rosemount, Minn.)  – In the journey of life there are certain experiences that impact us more than others, and in ways we never imagined. For Craig MacIntosh of Rosemount, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, that experience was the speech delivered by MIA Hunter Bryan Moon in early 2010.

For more than 20 years now, Moon has been leading expeditions into some of the most inhospitable places on Earth for the sole purpose of bringing lost servicemen home. Since 1990 he has gone on 29 missions and helped recover 107 planes.

“That may sound like a lot, but it’s just a drop in the bucket,” explains Moon, who points out that according to U.S. Military records, there are still an estimated 78,000 MIAs from World War II alone.

As Moon described the conditions in the remote jungles where he had recently found planes and human remains, you could say a lightbulb went off in MacIntosh’s head. “All of a sudden, I knew I knew I had to travel to the jungle to do research for the new book I was working on,” he says.

Up until that point MacIntosh had only done book research for The Last Lightning, but actually seeing what conditions were like in the jungles where so many American warplanes had gone down and servicemen had perished really appealed to him. Less than six months after hearing Moon speak, he found himself on a fact-finding mission in Papua New Guinea.

“It was truly the experience of a lifetime,” said MacIntosh. “We spent our days in two different villages and examined ten crash sites. Our team found no remains but we were able to map, photograph, make GPS readings, and record details from intact airplane parts. In addition to the abandoned aircraft, we were shown U.S. dog tags many times by villagers eager to help.”

The Last Lightning begins in 1944 with U.S. government planners putting together a top-secret escort mission to gain cooperation from tribal headmen in New Guinea. General George Kenney’s Fifth Air Force assigns four P-38’s as a security escort for a C-47 bound for Nadzab. The general picks a quartet of aces to ensure the safe delivery of the cargo plane loaded with food, ammunition, building supplies, medicine and 1,000 pounds of gold to buy tribal support.

According to Washington, the gold, in two-ounce ingots, will secure native aid, but the plan goes terribly awry. Somewhere over the Owen Stanley Range, New Guinea’s notorious weather blinds the Lightnings. The planes crash and there are no survivors.

Nearly 70 years later one of the missing planes—a P-38 Lightning belonging to the doomed flight’s leader—is found deep in the jungle by a missionary with a lifelong obsession with World War II aircraft wrecks. Nearby is the ruined fuselage of the C-47 that at one time had been filled with gold. Half a world away, others who learn of the discovery race to plan an expedition to the jungle in search of the gold When the outsiders arrive, however, the tale takes several twists that none of them anticipated.

“I want every novel I write to be anchored in a probable story. The fact is that the Allies and Japanese both pressed the locals into service since they had to transport a lot of things. There were no roads and they had to depend on the native to carry out their wounded, to bring in food, ammo, supplies, etc. I thought it was plausible that they would be paid in gold since Papua New Guinea has always been a good gold mining country,” says MacIntosh.

Moon has been to Papua New Guinea dozens of times but has never given much thought to looking for gold. “The prize is this,” says Moon. “When you walk through the jungle and suddenly you find an American World War II B24 bomber. You know at that moment there will be 11 men in that bomber and there will be 11 families in the United States who are going to get a phone call from the U.S. Army to say your father, your son or your brother or whoever it was who has been missing for 66 years has been found and he is going to be coming home, and you know you’ve done that. There’s your prize. That’s the payoff.”

Retired USAF Brig. Gen. Dennis Schulstad says he and other members of the military community are eternally grateful for the work Moon’s group has done. “ The work done by MIA Hunters and their founder/leader Bryan Moon, all volunteers, to locate planes and aviators that have been missing for over 70 years is remarkable.”

More information about MIA Hunters can be found on their website, http://www.miahunters.com. Copies of The Last Lightning are available in bookstores everywhere. The book is also available online at www.beaverspondbooks.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.amazon.com.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is being offered to you cost free and copyright free. Photography is also available for free upon request. For review copies or to arrange an interview of your own with Craig MacIntosh, contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist at 952-240-2513 or via e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..     
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