Fred Hargesheimer, a World War II Army pilot whose rescue by Pacific islanders led to a life of giving back as a builder of schools and teacher of children, died on Thursday morning. He was 94.
Richard Hargesheimer said his father had been in poor health and passed away in Lincoln, Nebraska.
On June 5, 1943, Hargesheimer, a P-38 pilot with the 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, was shot down by a Japanese fighter while on a mission over the Japanese-held island of New Britain in the southwest Pacific. He parachuted into the trackless jungle, where he barely survived for 31 days until found by local hunters.
They took him to their coastal village and for seven months hid him from Japanese patrols, fed him and nursed him back to health from two illnesses. In February 1944, with the help of Australian commandos working behind Japanese lines, he was picked up by a U.S. submarine off a New Britain beach.
With Christmas upon us, I’ve been reflecting on two things Jesus said here:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I have been frequently amazed at people who exhibit such selflessness, as exhibited by Fred Hargesheimer.