The 1980 Huntington Lake Salvage Operation


During the summer of 1980 an independent salvage operation organized by Gene Forte hired Dutra Salvage Company to raise Exterminator from the bottom of the Huntington Lake reservoir. Due to issues with funding and payment, the effort was a failure.

Fresno-area resident, Dennis Vasquez, was visiting the reservoir in August of that year. He's always had an interest in Exterminator; one of his uncles was in the Army Air Forces crew from Hammer Field that dragged the lake for wreckage in December, 1943. Vasquez was lucky to hitch a boat ride to Dutra's barge and snap some photos of the salvage operation.

I'm grateful to Dennis for contacting me and for his willingness to share his photos.

Note that the propeller blades are not bent. This means that two of Exterminator's engines were not operational when Capt. Darden ditched the Liberator in Huntington Lake.

The Dutra barge with two of Exterminator's engines on board.

On the left is the white decompression chamber Dutra brought along in case the divers suffered from the "bends."

The rear turret from Exterminator.



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