Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War

Hero Found: The Greatest POW Escape of the Vietnam War

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In February 1966, U.S. Navy pilot Dieter Dengler was shot down over "neutral Laos." He crashed deep in territory controlled by North Vietnamese army regulars and the communist Pathet Lao, who would eventually capture him and hold him prisoner in a fortified jungle prisoner-of-war camp.

But German-born Dengler was no ordinary prisoner. Already a legend in the Navy for his escape and evasion skills-amply demonstrated during training in the California desert-he would initiate, plan, and lead an organized escape from the POW camp, becoming the longest-held American to escape captivity during the Vietnam War. Caught in a most desperate situation, imprisoned not only by the enemy but by the jungle itself, Dengler's heroic impulse was to not only get himself out but to free all the other POWs-Americans, Thai, and Chinese-some of whom had been held for years.

In a surreal scene of brotherhood and celebration, Dengler returned to his aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger, six months after being shot down-emaciated and ravaged with strange tropical illnesses, but very much alive and joyous to be so-only two weeks before the ship was due to leave the Gulf of Tonkin and return home.

Bruce Henderson served with Dengler aboard Ranger off the coast of Vietnam and here tells Dengler's complete story for the first time, drawing on extensive interviews with the intrepid pilot, his squadron mates, friends, and family, as well as declassified military archival materials, some now available for the first time, and personal letters and journals. Henderson's riveting account amply 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400167029
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 06/29/2010
Edition description: MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About 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 Hero Found. An award-winning journalist and author, Bruce is a member of the Authors Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

Todd McLaren was involved in radio for more than twenty years in cities on both coasts. He left broadcasting for a full-time career in voice-overs, where he has been heard on more than 5,000 TV and radio commercials, as well as TV promos, narrations for documentaries on such networks as A&E and the History Channel, and films.

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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From the Publisher

"[McLaren's] animated involvement adds a special spark to a work already compelling from beginning to end." —-AudioFile

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Hero Found 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
kriemhilt More than 1 year ago
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.
JordanAtBarnesnNobles More than 1 year ago
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.
PittsburghFrank More than 1 year ago
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.
mjmbradley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an extraordinary story, with tons of vignettes that many servicemen can relate to. The writing is tight, and direct making the story very interesting and easy to follow.The author, Bruce Henderson, has done a remarkable job providing us insight into this hero's life. And I'm very grateful to learn about this man's life, and his background leading up to the main part of the book.
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Felt like I was standing with them.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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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