Monday, Apr. 5, 1943
You couldn’t make this up if you tried. Three young American airmen survived for 10 months and 12 days on the Japanese-held island of New Britain. Their names are worth remembering: Eugene D. Wallace (below at 91) of Los Angeles, CA; Marvin C. Harris of Baird, TX; and Private Dale Bordner of Chillicothe, O. Yes, they ate grubs, caterpillars, toads, and snakes but balked at grasshoppers. “I tried to eat a grasshopper,” one said, “but it turned my stomach.” They were fortunate to link up with an Australian, Private John Leslie Stokle of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, who saved them by using his mirror to signal an American bomber. Stokle then shared his one razor blade so that all the men emerged from the jungle cleanshaven. All three received Purple Hearts for bravery. I hope someone somewhere still remembers who they were. It’s Americans like this who won the war and whose stories are being forgotten.