During World War II, my father was a Major in the Twentieth Air Force (20th Bomber Command), the 468th. According to the army air corps WWII records, he was a B-17 and B-29 flight instructor, a veteran of seventeen prior WWII bombing missions, and Commander of the 793rd B-29 Super Fortress Squadron flying out of the U.S. Army Air Force base at Kharagpur, India. On a 1900 mile one-way mission from Kharagpur to bomb the drydocks in Singapore, he was shot down and forced to choose between living and hiding in the Malayan jungle or surrendering to the Japanese Imperial forces.
Given his options, my father, age twenty-six at the time, knew his probability of survival would be better hiding in the Malayan jungle rather than surrendering and being taken by the Japanese to one of their POW camps or possibly killed on the spot. Therefore, he determined to take his chances in the wilds and successfully lived in the jungle for eight months until the end of World War II. As Earnest Hemmingway put it, “Courage is grace under pressure.” Often, when we feel we cannot physically or emotionally go on that somehow, we do. In so doing, things do not become easy, but with the grace of God, they do indeed become easier.
The “journey of 800 miles” truly does begin with a single step, though perhaps, to be honest, it does not start with the step but the intention before making that step. The intention is what leads to action. It is that spark in the soul ignited by the will through which we accomplish all great deeds. His love of freedom lit the spark for my father, and that spark, once ignited, grew amid great difficulties and helped him keep moving forward on his courageous 800-mile trek through the Malayan jungle.
I Grew up hearing of my father’s harrowing and courageous survival tale of bravery and courage. I heard how he risked his life for our freedom. When I was young, I thought his story was fantastic, but I did not understand it. Because of the wisdom that comes with age, experience, and knowledge, I can now appreciate his life and courage on a visceral level I couldn’t before.
I hope by writing 8 Miraculous Months in the Malayan Jungle: A WWII Pilot’s True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival, future generations may learn from and be inspired by my father’s story.
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8 Miraculous Months in the Malayan Jungle
A WWII Pilot’s True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival