Magazine article Army

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Magazine article Army

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Article excerpt

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II. Mitchell Zuckojf. Harper. 400 pages; black-and-ivhite photographs; index; $26.99.

Former journalist Mitchell Zuckoff 's latest book is a fascinating account of a real-life calamity in the South Pacific in 1945. On May 13, 24 servicemembers of the U.S. military - nine Army officers, nine Women's Army Corps members and six enlisted soldiers - climbed aboard a C-47 Skytrain for a pleasure ride taking off from what was then called Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea. COL Peter Pressen, the captain of the flight, wanted to provide an afternoon's diversion for members of his staff on the small American base. He planned to pass over the Bauern Valley, thought to be only recently discovered by an Army pilot, which was nestled between two mountain ranges and surrounded by thick jungle, peopled by indigenous tribes who seemed to have had no contact with the outside world.

A risky flight that both the captain and copilot were undertaking for the first time, the trip turned into a nightmare when the plane crashed into a cliff and caught fire. Only six passengers survived, and three of them died within hours. The three who remained, two gravely injured, beat their way down the mountainside through thick vegetation, negotiating treacherous terrain along cliff edges and over streams until they reached a clearing three days later. There they managed to catch the attention of a search plane passing overhead. CPL Margaret Hastings, SGT Kenneth Decker and ILT John McCollum had been found, but their challenges were far from over.

The clearing was a patch of sweet potatoes and wild rhubarb, and its farmers emerged from the trees to make contact with the three survivors. The inhabitants of the valley lived Stone Age lives, surviving on sweet potatoes and the pigs they raised. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.