Guy gets shot down in WWII and survives for 31 days in the jungle until rescued by local islanders. Islanders keep him alive and well for 7 months until Aussie commandos get him out by submarine. How does he say thanks?
After revisiting the village of Ea Ea in 1960, he came home, raised $15,000 over three years, “most of it $5 and $10 gifts,” and then returned with 17-year-old son Richard in 1963 to contract for the building of the villagers’ first school.
In the decades to come, Hargesheimer’s U.S. fundraising and determination built a clinic, another school and libraries in Ea Ea, renamed Nantabu, and surrounding villages.
In 1970, their three children grown, Hargesheimer and his late wife, Dorothy, moved to New Britain, today an out-island of the nation of Papua New Guinea, and taught the village children themselves for four years. The Nantabu school’s experimental plot of oil palm even helped create a local economy, a large plantation with jobs for impoverished villagers.
I guess the islanders really liked him
On his last visit, in 2006, Hargesheimer was helicoptered into the jungle and carried in a chair by Nakanai men to view the newly found wreckage of his World War II plane. Six years earlier, on another visit, he was proclaimed “Suara Auru,” “Chief Warrior” of the Nakanai.
He died recently. His son said
Richard Hargesheimer said no services are planned.
No services planned? I’d say none are needed. The lives of all the people he helped after the war will stand as a monument to his humanity long past the time that you and I forget he ever lived. What could you say at his funeral that wouldn’t pale in comparison to what Fred Hargesheimer has done?
I think the good Lord has a set of wings for you, Fred. You’ve earned them.