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75 years later, Navy "Flight 19" remains a mystery

Fourteen airmen disappeared in the Bermuda triangle. So did the 13 personnel sent out to find them.

NORFOLK, Va. — It's an enduring mystery in U.S. military lore and now, seven and half decades old and no closer to being solved.

It was December 5, 1945, less than four months after VJ Day marked the formal end of World War II. Five Navy Avenger torpedo bombers took off from the Naval Air Station in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

The planes -- collectively known as "Flight 19" -- were scheduled to fly a three-hour exercise between Florida, Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and back in an area that's come to be known as the Bermuda Triangle.

As the weather deteriorated, radio contact became intermittent, and the planes just disappeared.

All 14 airmen on the flight were lost, as were all 13 crew members sent out to look for them in a search plane.

Twenty-seven souls in all just vanished without a trace.

The father of Norfolk resident Sue Haut, Jerry, was Flight 19's flight instructor.

"It always haunted him," she said. "They were like brothers."

Haut says that for the rest of his life, her father missed those brothers, and he took much pride in having served his country.

"Every time he would see a picture or come up to one of his planes, like at the museum over in Pungo, tears would come to his eyes," she said. "He was so proud and he always wore a baseball cap with an Avenger on it. He was very proud."

Navy investigators never determined the exact cause of the loss of Flight 19. No definitive signs of the six aircraft or their 27 crewmen have ever been found. And now, 75 years later, what's one proud daughter's hope for the public, as far as this little-told tale?

"Just to remember that they were heroes, also, that people don't realize," Haut said. "Don't forget."