“The cameras were rolling when I was startled by a series of sharp staccato sounds. My P-38 twin-engine reconnaissance airplane, the “Lightening,” quivered a bit as I made a hurried check of the engine instruments. Everything seemed normal. Suddenly a long jagged tear appeared in the port-engine cowling. An instant later a puff of black smoke shot out from the hole, followed by a burst of flame. Instinctively I sent The Lightening into a screaming dive with throttles wide open; only then did I dare sneak a glance at the rearview mirror. I was afraid to look…..but afraid not to. Turning my head, I stared straight into the flaming snout of a twin-engine enemy fighter.

  I felt the plane shudder as a burst of lead ricocheted off the armor plate behind me. I cut off the left engine because it was now spitting red flame…The right engine died with a loud burp, and so did any hope of seeking cloud cover. The needle on the fuel-pressure gauge began to waver and plopped down to zero. It had all happened in rapid sequence, but it almost seemed that I was watching it unfold in slow motion on a brilliantly lit stage…

  I needed to jettison the cockpit canopy, so I pulled on the emergency hatch-release handle. The canopy popped partway open but didn’t disengage. I unbuckled my seat belt and rose up. A blast of air hit me under the chin and sucked me out of the cockpit as though I had been lassoed. In an instant I was swinging from side to side under the nylon canopy of my parachute.”

  In the lining of the parachute there was a “survival kit.” A compass, ten matches, two chocolate bars, and a guide about friendly fruits and vegetable etc.

   For 31 days he made his way through the jungle. Loneliness.

Despair. Delirium. Nightmares. He prayed. Slogging through mud, scrambling up and down ridges, pushing through clinging jungle. Emergency rations soon ran out. At night mosquitoes shared his camp.

   He eventually reached a riverbank where he set up a bit of a camp. He ate snails, a lot of snails. On the 31st day, just before sunset he took off his clothes and walked into the edge of the river to gather bamboo shoots for supper. Fred heard voices, thought perhaps he was hallucinating until a slender nose of an outrigger canoe pushed into view from behind a clump of trees that flanked the near side of the stream. It was followed by a crowd of natives chatting and singing as they waded through the shallow water. They both stood is silence watching each other. Lauo, their leader, broke the silence, greeting Hargesheimer and handing him a crumpled note. It was from an Australian officer. Lieutenant Hargesheimer broke down and cried.

   And so it began.

The Japanese pilot saw Fred parachute down but did not shoot him. It was a crucial decision. It also seemed the Japanese pilot never told his ground forces, who were in total control of the area. Years later, Lt. Hargesheimer traced the Japanese pilot to his home in Japan. But found the pilot suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and cold not communicate with him.