Dieter Dengler (aka Micro In A Swamp)
In Texas, United States
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A micro hidden deep in the swamp.
On February 2, 1966 US Navy pilot LtJG. Dieter Dengler was shot down over western Laos. The following day he was captured by communist Pathet Lao guerrillas. For the next five months the German immigrant was held as a POW in a remote camp in the mountains of Laos along with US Air Force Lt. Duane Martin and five civilian employees of the CIA-owned airline AIR AMERICA. On June 29, 1966 the seven men escaped from the camp after Dengler siezed the guards weapons and killed several. The group split up, with Dengler and Martin going on their own. For several days they wandered through dense mountainous jungles, encountering snakes, leeches and other vermin and hiding from the local population. Famished from lack of food and weak from malaria, a few days after their escape Martin convinced Dengler that they should go to a nearby village and attempt to steal some food. Spotted by a young boy, Martin was killed by a machete-wielding villager but Dengler managed to escape back into the jungle. That evening he decided to burn down the abandoned village where the two had been hiding to signal a nightly C-130 flare ship that came over the area. As soon as he heard the sound of the airplane's engines, he began setting fire to the huts, and the C-130 crew came over and began dropping flares. Yours truly - that's right, the old Tennessee Flyboy himself - was kicking the flares out of the chute at the back of the airplane. We went back to our base at Ubon, Thailand and told the intelligence debriefers what we had seen, but somehow the word was never sent out that there might be an escaped POW on the ground in Laos. Early the next morning Dengler went out in a thunderstorm looking for the parachutes from one of the flares. Just before dawn a flash of lightning revealed a parachute draped over a bush. Dengler managed to make his way threw thorns and grab it, and pull it from the tree. He later wrote that he clutched it to his breast and cried as the nylon folds reminded him of his new home in the United States.
Although the hoped for helicopters did not come, Dengler did not give up. For almost two more weeks he wandered through the mountains, until one day US Air Force pilot Eugene Dietrick spotted a flash of white, then went back and saw someone waving what turned out to be the canopy from the flare I had dropped. Even though Dietrick was told to forget about it, he pulled his rank of lieutenant colonel and ordered that a helicopter be sent to check it out. A few hours later Dengler was rescued and returned to friendly control. The recent movie RESCUE DAWN portrayed Dengler's experiences. Unfortunately, Deiter Dengler passed away from Lou Gherig's disease in 2001.
As you wander through the swamps looking for this micro in the woods remember what Dieter Dengler endured during his tormentous escape to freedom.
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Last Updated: on 12/3/2013 7:52:06 AM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (3:52 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum