Hell Is So Green: Search and Rescue over the Hump in World War IIby William Diebold
Lt. William Diebold served in the Army’s Air Transport Command in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II and never fired a weapon in battle. Like many men who flew the Hump, he never saw on-the-ground combat, but he fought bravely by saving lives. Flyers who crossed the eastern Himalayas to keep the allied armies in China supplied with food, fuel, and
Lt. William Diebold served in the Army’s Air Transport Command in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II and never fired a weapon in battle. Like many men who flew the Hump, he never saw on-the-ground combat, but he fought bravely by saving lives. Flyers who crossed the eastern Himalayas to keep the allied armies in China supplied with food, fuel, and weapons against Japanpreventing it from concentrating its power in the Pacificoften flew in zero-visibility, sometimes crashing into mountains or falling from the sky from Japanese Zero attacks. Those pilots who survived, Bill Diebold rescued. In Hell Is So Green, Diebold vividly describes the heat and stink of the jungle; the vermin, lice, and leeches; the towering mountains and roaring rivers. Rich with war slang, wisecracks, and old-fashioned phrases, his story reverberates with authenticity and represents the stories of many men that have never been told. After the author’s early death, the manuscript was put away in an atticuntil now. Here, from the shadows of that attic, comes a compelling story of courage under fire and heroism for the ages.
- Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
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Hell Is So GreenSearch and Rescue over the Hump in World War II
By William Diebold
Lyons PressCopyright © 2011 William Diebold
All right reserved.
“Diebold,” he said, “you’re on temporary duty here, is that right?” I nodded. “You don’t come under higher headquarters where I’d normally have to get the O.K. to let you do this, do you?”“No, sir,” I answered. He looked at me again for a minute and then asked, “Would you like to change your mind?”Everything inside me urged, Yes, for God’s sake, yes, but I answered, “No.”“All right, boy, go get dressed for a parachute jump and a long trek in the jungle. Be back here in an hour, and I’ll get you some gear and fill you in with what you need to know.” He paused. “And by the way, welcome to your new home.”
—from Chapter 1
Excerpted from Hell Is So Green by William Diebold Copyright © 2011 by William Diebold. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Lt. William Diebold wrote Hell Is So Green shortly after returning to America. An excerpt appeared in Cosmopolitan in 1946 and Coast Artillery Journal in 1947. He died in 1965. Richard Matthews is a feature writer, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Historic Preservation, American Heritage, American Profile, Country Living, Vermont Life, Massachusetts Business and Economic Review, and many other publications. An infantryman in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966, he lives in Phillips, Maine.
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I'm not sure whether Bill Diebold was brave or just loved danger, but I think it was bravery. Who else volunteers, with no training at all, to parachute into the Burma jungle on his first day? His reward was to save an injured pilot, but then he had to get him out of the jungle himself without help except for very limited aerial support. He did this repeatedly and successfully, learning as he went, until his own plane crashed and he was injured too badly to continue. He never killed anyone but he saved maybe one hundred of our own men. That is heroism. Bill's book is a time capsule--he wrote it in 1945 or so but never published it. He writes with the light-hearted unconcern for danger that characterized our nation's attitude coming out of WWII. His style is easy to read, hard to put down and imbued with a sense of humor and love for life that only people who have risked their lives can have. Books have been written about flying the Burma Hump, but no one has told first-hand of his personal experiences in rescuing the flyers who went down in that effort. This is Bill's only book; I wish he had written more!