Lake Garda – 2004

The Search for Fallen Heroes

The search for fallen heroes in Lake Garda, Italy

In 2004 ProMare, a non-profit underwater archaeology foundation, initiated an expedition to Lake
Garda, Italy to locate the remains of 25 US Servicemen lost in 1945, just days before WWII ended.
As Allied troops rushed north through Italy into southern Europe, an amphibious 2 ½ ton truck, one
of the ubiquitous DUKWs, was lost on Lake Garda, 60 miles east of Milan. One of three such vans in
the advance north, the DUKW was loaded with a field artillery piece and 26 infantry when it was
launched from Torbole on the northeastern corner of the lake. Horribly overloaded, the vehicle was
swamped taking both artillery and men to the bottom, deep below. All of the servicemen who were
aboard are still listed as missing in action. Cpl. Thomas Hough was the lone survivor.

Promare employed state of the art sonar systems to search the lake bed but could not locate the
DUKW. It was only in 2012, after many hours of sonar exploration, that the vehicle was located at a
depth of 276 meters by a local volunteer group, Gruppo Volontari del Garda.

A team from ProMare then teamed up with ICTINEU Submarins, a Spanish builder and operator of
small manned submersibles to film and document the DUKW on the lake bottom in 2018. The three-
man mini-submarine was used to descend to the depth of the sunken craft. The goal of the
operation was to conduct a full survey of the sunken vehicle and locate any associated objects, such
as traces of the soldiers.

Over the years, a number of relatives of the victims of this tragedy have been located by the
Association Benàch, a local history society. This project is an important documentation of the heroic
efforts made by these servicemen to free Italy, and will also be used to assist the local authorities in
their efforts to monitor and preserve this important military grave site.

The Lake Garda Project in the news

National Geographic published an article here.

The Daily Mail published an article here.

The U.S. Army published an article here.

2004 Project – Photo Gallery: