"I'm so grateful for getting shot out of the sky"
March 8, 2008 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Stranded on the island of New Britain during WWII, Fred Hargesheimer was rescued by native islanders, who hid him for 8 months from occupying Japanese forces. Fred never forgot the kindness he received, and in 1960, he used his family's vacation money to return to the island to personally thank the people who saved him. Thus began a 48 year relationship between Hargesheimer and the people of New Britain.

Chico state has a slideshow about New Britain which also features a song written especially for Fred Hargesheimer.
posted by The Light Fantastic (15 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Great post. Thanks.
posted by uaudio at 9:13 PM on March 8, 2008

wow, very cool.
posted by caddis at 9:35 PM on March 8, 2008

A fine post. Thanks!
posted by killdevil at 10:08 PM on March 8, 2008

Fantastic. Well done, Fred.
posted by barnacles at 10:17 PM on March 8, 2008

Shigeru Mizuki was stationed on Rabaul during the Pacific War, and created some fantastic manga about his experiences. Japan At War: An Oral History also has some chilling accounts of the annihilation of Japanese forces on New Britain.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:49 PM on March 8, 2008

posted by LobsterMitten at 11:01 PM on March 8, 2008

Lovely and inspiring. Thanks for this.
posted by GrammarMoses at 6:12 AM on March 9, 2008

What an experience. Good post.
posted by dazed_one at 6:50 AM on March 9, 2008

A wonderful story! Thank you very much.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:05 AM on March 9, 2008

Thanks for this. I especially like the report that the Japanese pilot refused to shoot him as he floated down in his parachute.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on March 9, 2008

What a great story! Thanks for the find.
posted by dejah420 at 8:41 AM on March 9, 2008

Such a wonderful story, thank you!
posted by ceri richard at 10:23 AM on March 9, 2008

How utterly complex human nature and life are! Mundane, striving, good men can be trained to practice mayhem, whether for state sanctions or out of bonds of group loyalty, but any of them can be (and I believe most ARE) a beautiful soul, capable of a ray of insight or a wave of empathy. Sometimes, just sometimes, those rays and waves can burst into torrents. I think of my father, born 1917, an incredibly meek but empathetic man, who trained to be a flamethrower in N. Africa in WWII, then was part of the Anzio invasion. He was always so reticent to tell his stories of military work, violence (probably not very much in his particular case), and discovery as he moved around in italy, a place he ended up loving with all his heart. See Bertolucci's movie "1900"; my father glimpsed the old bonds of loyalty and fortitude in Italian localities. Sorry for the diversion, but it's all I could say that resonated with Hargy's love for New Britain.
posted by yazi at 11:17 AM on March 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Beautiful story. thank you.
posted by nax at 1:51 PM on March 9, 2008

This brought tears to my eyes. THANKS!
posted by drbrendamd at 5:01 PM on March 9, 2008

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