From the New York Times bestselling author of Sons and Soldiers comes the incredible but true story of Dieter Dengler, the only pilot to escape captivity from a POW camp in the Laotian jungle during the Vietnam War.
In February 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over "neutral" Laos in jungle territory controlled by Pathet Lao guerrillas and North Vietnamese regulars, who captured and held him in a fortified prisoner-of-war camp. Already a legend in the navy for his unique escape skills, the German-born Dengler proved to be no ordinary prisoner. Caught in a desperate situation, imprisoned by the enemy and by the jungle itself, Dengler set out to free not only himself but also other POWs—American, Thai, and Chinese—some of whom had been held for years.
This amazing story of triumph over seemingly insurmountable odds has been filmed by Werner Herzog as both a documentary (Little Dieter Needs to Fly) and a motion picture (Rescue Dawn, starring Christian Bale). Now Bruce Henderson, who served with Dengler aboard USS Ranger, tells the complete story of Dengler's captivity and remarkable escape—based on in-depth personal interviews as well as military archival materials, some never before made public—in this riveting account of unending optimism, courage, loyalty, and survival against overwhelming odds.
Only a handful of Vietnam War POWs escaped captivity. One of those was Dieter Dengler, a German-born navy Skyraider pilot shot down on his first mission over Laos in 1966 and taken prisoner by the Pathet Lao in a remote jungle camp. Tortured and nearly starved to death, Dengler led his fellow prisoners in a daring escape, and he miraculously survived 23 days in the jungle before an inexperienced pilot spotted him frantically signaling from the dense jungle just over the border in North Vietnam. Dengler s harrowing and amazing story has been told before : in his 1978 memoir, Escape from Laos, and in two films, Werner Herzog s documentary Little Dieter Needs to Fly and a feature film, Rescue Dawn. Henderson, who served as a navy weatherman aboard Dengler s aircraft carrier, has crafted a worthy narrative that adds new material based on interviews with Dengler (who died in 2001) and his navy comrades, friends. and family, along with newly unearthed archival records. These include the official 78-page military Dengler Debriefing, which Henderson (coauthor, And the Sea Will Tell) obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. This often riveting account sheds new light on an oft-told true story.
Hero Found A GREAT READ
A fantastic well written account of what really happened during the VIETNAM era for those of us that remember those years.
An excellent book.