Monday, November 1, 2010

Flying Down from Chicago

A comment was made to me about Belize and why were people flying down there from Chicago.  So a little side note here.  At the time the country was called British Honduras (renamed Belize in June 1973).  Those cargo planes mentioned in my previous blog were being flown by pilots hired to provide supplies to a recently purchased piece of property located on the eastern side of British Honduras - the side facing the Caribbean.  Bob Woll was one of those pilots, flying his twin-engine Beech Baron.  He and other pilots were working through Fred Keller of Keller Caribbean Sports in British Honduras - now out of business.  Bob Woll was hired as a “marine engineer.”  They were actually flying for Chicago's Mayor Richard Daley and stocking up a resort area planned to be a secluded hideaway for Daley and his friends.  The person running the hideaway, named Spanish Creek Lodge for its proximity to Spanish Creek (today the Spanish Creek Rainforest Reserve), was a retired Chicago judge.  The property was a steal.  One estimate was that it was 10,000 acres purchased on a long-term lease at $10 an acre, nestled around a secluded bay away from the media and the world.  It was reputed that the property had been purchased by the Democratic Organization Party.  The construction company was named Elard Realty Company which was a company supposedly owned by Mayor Daley.  At the time, Elard (a composite of the names “Eleanor and Richard Daley”) and the Democratic Organization Party shared the same building in Chicago.  Those who want to research this any further can start with the Chicago Tribune's article dated July 13, 1974, entitled "Defunct Construction Firm Tied to Probe of Daley Assets." 
As with any research, there are always items of interest that sidetracks one from the main body of research.  This was only one.  Another is the mystery of DORADO's bell.  It was removed from the submarine by the DORADO's Commanding Officer and handed over to his father for safe keeping.  He later donated it to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD, and they subsequently lost it - so somewhere out there sits the bell from the USS DORADO.  Another is the story of John Thonen who claimed he was the sole survivor of the bombing and sinking of DORADO - and the confiscation of all known copies of a hometown newspaper that had reported on his survival.  Another is the post card mailed from Key West by a DORADO crewmember postmarked just days after DORADO was depth-charged in the Caribbean.  Another is the loss of DORADO's original Board of Investigation and Court of Inquiry transcripts by the Navy's Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Office (luckily after this author had requested their declassification and obtained a copy for his own files).  But all in good time, all in good time.


  1. so exciting to see something about the dorado. NO one seems to talk about it much. Love to find the sub and have some closure. My grandfather died on it. my cousin and I go to a WWII submarine memorial service every veterans day in his honor.

  2. You would think that with so many pilots using the sub for navigation purposes that it would appear on a chart somewhere. Until the 1960's there was a Civil War ships mast sticking out of the water near where I live and it was marked on a chart as a hazzard until the navy removed the masts. The ship has not been found yet, its likely been covered by dredging, still they know the general area by the old chart. I wonder how deep of water the sub is supposed to be. If it were so close to land it would seem weird that no one got out. I just found the story and am interested in it. I used to be a marine archaeologist and historian--if you know the general area, a magnetometer should find it. I'm also a diver and merchant marine captain--just in case you need someone with all those talents! Personally, I think the Navy would rather forget about it--one of those incidents that supposedly never happens in the US military.

  3. Typing error - my uncle's name was Robert Warren Irwin.