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"THE SECRET RESCUE combines all of the elements that draw us to WWII stories: the daring of The Guns of Navarone, the suspense of The Great Escape, and the bravery reminiscent of Ill Met by Moonlight. It's the inclusion of so many women, though, that makes this story unique.'' -- Daily Beast
This mesmerizing account of the courage and bravery of ordinary women and men reveals for the first time an astonishing true story of heroic struggle and endurance.
When twenty-six Army Air Force flight nurses and medics boarded a military transport plane in November 1943 on a mission to evacuate wounded and sick troops, they didn't anticipate a crash landing in Nazi territory.
Emerging from their battered aircraft, the Americans found themselves in Albania, a country rife with chaos and danger. With hunger and sickness as their constant companions, they hid at night with courageous villagers who shared what little food they had, risking death at Nazi hands by doing so. For months, they prayed desperately to be rescued while doing everything they could to survive.
National Geographic staff writer Lineberry divulges a 70-year old WWII secret that ends happily. In November 1943 a US transport plane with 30 medics, plus 12 nurses from the 807th Medical Air Evacuation Transport Squadron, got lost en route to Bari from Sicily. Air-lifting was in its infancy with personnel traveling on transport planes that converted into ambulances on return flights. Due to inclement conditions, the plane crashed on the wrong side of the Adriatic Sea in German-occupied Al-bania. Rather than being rescuers, suddenly they were in need of rescue. For 60 days the group trekked through remote Balkan villages following local guides named Qani, Ismail, and Haki in search of Brit-ish comrades. Battling vermin, hunger, thirst, and Nazis as meticulously recounted by Lineberry, they trudged more than 650 miles and miraculously made it home. Yet these members of the 807th kept mum until 2011 when the author interviewed the only living survivor, 89-year old Harold Hayes, at a retirement home in Oregon. With a cast of characters that includes British star Anthony Quayle as an undercover agent, survivalists and history buffs will relish the daily escapades of this heroic American contingent.