Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War [NOOK Book]

Overview

In February 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over ?neutral? Laos in territory controlled by Pathet Lao guerrillas and North Vietnamese regulars. After his capture, the German-born Dengler proved to be no ordinary prisoner. Already a legend in the navy for his unique escape skills, which he had demonstrated during survival training in the California desert, he found himself caught in a desperate situation, imprisoned by the enemy and by the jungle itself. Dengler's heroic impulse was to free not only himself but...

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Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War

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Overview

In February 1966, Dieter Dengler was shot down over “neutral” Laos in territory controlled by Pathet Lao guerrillas and North Vietnamese regulars. After his capture, the German-born Dengler proved to be no ordinary prisoner. Already a legend in the navy for his unique escape skills, which he had demonstrated during survival training in the California desert, he found himself caught in a desperate situation, imprisoned by the enemy and by the jungle itself. Dengler's heroic impulse was to free not only himself but also other POWs—American, Thai, and Chinese—some of whom had been held for years. In a surreal scene of brotherhood and celebration, Dengler, nearly six months after being shot down, returned to his ship in the Gulf of Tonkin—emaciated and ravaged with tropical maladies, but alive and free.

Bruce Henderson served with Dengler aboard USS Ranger. In this gripping book, he tells the complete story for the first time, drawing on personal interviews with the intrepid pilot, his squadron mates, and his friends and family, as well as military archival materials—some never before made public—and letters and journals. Henderson's riveting account demonstrates why Dengler's story of unending optimism, innate courage, loyalty, and survival against overwhelming odds remains for his fellow flyers and shipmates the best and brightest memory of their generation's war.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (June)
From the Publisher
"[McLaren's] animated involvement adds a special spark to a work already compelling from beginning to end." —-AudioFile
Kirkus Reviews
Vietnam veteran Henderson (Down to the Sea: An Epic Story of Naval Disaster and Heroism in World War II, 2007, etc.) tells the story of Navy pilot Dieter Dengler and his escape from a Laos prison camp during the war. When Dengler's plane was shot down in February 1966, his chances for survival were slim. Quickly captured, he endured torture, starvation and beatings from Pathet Lao guerrillas and North Vietnamese soldiers before eventually escaping from a POW camp. Dengler's story has been told before, most notably in the 2007 film Rescue Dawn, a fictionalized account by Werner Herzog, who also directed a 1997 documentary, Little Dieter Needs to Fly. But Henderson has his own connection to the material. He and Dengler both served on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger during the war, and the author personally conducted interviews with Dengler in 1997 and 1998. (Dengler died in 2001.) Henderson provides an account of the German-born Dengler's prewar years, including a memorable moment when a very young Dengler was enthralled by the sight of a low-flying American fighter plane during World War II, and vowed that he would one day fly such planes. During his Navy training, he escaped a simulated POW camp-twice-experiences that served him well in Laos. Dengler's actual POW experiences are the centerpiece of the book, and, thanks to Henderson's storytelling skill, these scenes often read like a first-rate suspense novel, particularly after Dengler meets a group of other POWs and they formulate plans for a daring escape. The author's portrayal of Dengler's post-rescue life, though brief, is poignant in its details. He bought his own restaurant in San Francisco, following through on a desire to "never be hungry again" after the starvation he had endured. Later, suffering from Lou Gehrig's Disease, he e-mailed a friend, "I have looked death in the eye, so it is easier for me to handle."A short but engaging tale of a harrowing POW experience.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061989896
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/29/2010
  • Sold by: HARPERCOLLINS
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 197,794
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Bruce Henderson is the author or coauthor of more than twenty nonfiction books, including the #1 New York Times bestseller And the Sea Will Tell (with Vincent Bugliosi) and Down to the Sea. A former newspaper and magazine writer, Henderson has taught nonfiction writing at several major universities. He lives in Menlo Park, California.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xi

1 "Born A Gypsy" 1

2 America 16

3 Training for Flight 31

4 The Swordsmen 54

5 Gray Eagle Goes to War 75

6 Shootdown 99

7 Will to Survive 124

8 "We'll Run out Of Pilots" 150

9 Prisoners of War 157

10 South China Sea 181

11 Escape 194

12 To the Rescue 225

13 Returning Hero 233

14 Alive and Free 241

Epilogue 251

Postscript 257

Dramatis personae 259

Source notes 263

Bibliography 281

Index 285

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 23, 2010

    Exhilarating and Highly Profound

    Hero Found is an inspiring tale about the escape of Dieter Dangler, a navy pilot who is shot down during the vietnam war inside of hostile territory. After much running and dodging of the authorities and citizens alike, he is captured and taken as a POW. Through his own daring and wit, he attempts to escape and lead other POWs with him and lead them to safety. Though most of the men shot down in Vietnam were lost, this heartwarming tale tells of one mans infinite courage and unwillingness to give up.
    I highly enjoyed Dieter's retelling of his time as a military man and his stories of his childhood. As a boy his mother taught him and his brothers how to survive in the wild. This laid a foundation for a man whom many would say was engineered to be an escapee. Dieter was much different than most because of how he was raised and it often baffles people that meet him. He thinks and reacts differently than most people and the way in which he goes about his antics is highly entertaining.
    Despite how enjoyable most of the book was, there were often long chapters full of dry details about how the navy operated and much history about certain types of planes. Staying awake through these earlier chapters can prove difficult to all but the most die hard of fans of war and military biographies. As I stated previously though, sticking it out through these early chapters can pay off big time with an escape story that will warm your heart.
    When it comes down to it, I would only reccomend this book to people who have read other war novels from the vietnam war era and thoroughly enjoyed them. If you liked this book I'd recommend some books written about the gulf war, as they're often a more intense brand of this same sort of writing. Crusade and Generation Kill are both very good novels.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2010

    Hero Worship and Fabrication

    I have just read Hero Found and am appalled that the author, Bruce Henderson, who interviewed me two years ago and wasted three hours of my time, has depicted me as some 'sailor bait', flying off to some questionable naval base for a rendezvous with Lt Dengler!
    In my case, this `historian' not only distorted the truth, he simply fabricated what he did not know. Furthermore, he has never returned the photos he `borrowed' but did not use. Nor did he use any information I gave him, other than my name and the fact that I studied German; then he placed me in an imagined scenario, likening me to a cheap slut.
    This should have been a better book, considering the material which was probably collected. It is no doubt a good read for someone with a technical naval background or someone who actually was in the military with Dieter. The evening at the bookstore in Menlo Park made it apparent that this book was to impress the naval buddies. For me, Dieter's family background and early days in the United States, prior to my meeting him in Squaw Valley, were the most interesting in explaining his character. He had bitter experiences, many of which were not mentioned in this book, which he blamed for his often callous treatment of women.
    Dieter was not a true hero - he always helped himself, with the exception of his brother, before he helped anyone else- but he was a genius at escape and at innovation, in addition to being interesting, a lot of fun, and definitely outrageous. He was also extremely selfish and manipulative, obstinate and stingy beyond belief.
    I knew Dieter longer than most people, from 1961 until 1999 when I last spoke to him on the phone from Hamburg when he complained that Werner Herzog had cheated him. I wonder what he would have thought of this book...probably not much.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Outstanding book

    As a retired Navy Carrier pilot I loved it. This and Kenny Fields,"Rescue of street car 304" were both great reads. They tell what it was like flying off the carrier and I still get goose bumps thinking about night landings.
    Once shot down, these two faced terrible odds but the both made it and give us tremedous insight into what it takes to survive

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  • Posted August 3, 2010

    you saw the movie, now read the story

    Just finished Hero Found, Henderson does it again! Great read. His research left nothing out. The other pilots, some good, some not so good. Dengler's time at the POW camp, his escape, the courage of Duane and himself against very high odds. What they ate, how they were beaten, the conditions in the camp. The Pathet Lao were people you didn't want to deal with if you could help it. I would've liked at least one map of the area, for reference purposes. Interesting reading about the aircraft carrier and flight operations. About the movie, I had forgotten I had seen it until a couple chapters in.
    Another outstanding read from a very good author.

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