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Wartime dive bomber recovered from San Diego reservoir

SAN DIEGO - Salvage divers gently cleared away silt and mud covering a World War II dive bomber buried in the bottom of the San Diego reservoir, carefully working yesterday to lift the rare plane from the water, 65 years after it was ditched during a training run.

Bob Metz, 84, who watched the painstaking work, said he recalls his oldest brother, Sgt. Joseph Metz, telling about how he and the pilot, both since dead, swam ashore to safety, then hitchhiked back to the nearby military base.

"I remember when he got a Jeep and brought me up here and told me, 'You want to see where we ditched the plane?' " said Metz of Montebello, Calif. The aircraft was forgotten until Duane Johnson and his friend, searching for bass, spotted the outline of the plane on an electronic fish finder last year.

"We didn't know if there were bodies down there or if it was something simple like a remote-controlled plane," Johnson said. He learned later he had discovered the rare SB2C Helldiver, which crashed May 28, 1945. If it can be restored, the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., hopes to add the Helldiver to its collection. - AP

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