Sealed inside a plastic bag, a photograph of George Bellinger floated away from a rented motor boat and disappeared into the Pacific Ocean.
Just like he did.
Sixty-three years before his eldest son and a grandson he never met closed a chapter in family history by visiting Jaluit Atoll on a propeller plane in 2005, Navy Lt. George Bellinger was last seen above those waters as the leader of a bombing section during the raid on the Marshall Islands in World War II.
Bellinger flew one of 28 planes that took off from the deck of the USS Yorktown and soared into the stormy early-morning darkness on Feb. 1, 1942, as part of America’s first major offensive after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The 31-year-old pilot never returned to the ship, nor to his family in Glens Falls, N.Y., but he left behind a lineage that now stretches into the NFL.