Tuesday, December 28, 2010

One of My Heroes Died on December 23...

I first read about Fred Hargesheimer about 15 years ago.  Fred was a P-38 pilot in WWII, shot down over Papua New Guinea, hidden and nurtured by natives.  He survived the war and went on to become a successful businessman (with ERA and Univac).  Later he went back to the natives of the Nakanai tribe, and offered to help.  He started with a school, but did much, much more for the tribe, trying to repay them for saving his life (at great risk to themselves).  Eventually he was given a great honor by the tribe, and just a few years ago the wreckage of his plane was found (after all these years!).  Fred was, of course, an old man by then – but the tribe knew he'd really want to see the wreckage.  So they cleared a helicopter pad in the jungle nearby the wreck, and arranged for him to be helicoptered in, and then carried through the jungle to the wreck.  Fred was able to positively identify the plane.  Here's a more detailed version of his story.

There's much more to Fred's story, of course.  I recommend his book The School That Fell From the Sky; read it and you'll see why I call Fred one of my heroes.

Fred Hargesheimer died on December 23.

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