Fred Hargesheimer was shot down in the southwest Pacific on June 5, 1943. A lifetime later, he sits in his quiet California ranch house amid the snow and soaring sugar pines of the Sierra Nevada foothills.
The light blue eyes, at age 91, can’t see as well as they once did. But when he looks back over 65 years, the smiling Minnesotan sees it all clearly ”” the struggle to survive, the native rescuers, the Japanese patrols and narrow escapes, the mother’s milk that saved him. He remembers well his return to New Britain, the people’s embrace, the fundraising and building, the children taught, the adults cured, the happy years beside the Bismarck Sea with Dorothy, his wife.
“I’m so grateful for getting shot out of the sky,” he said.
Garua Peni is grateful, too, as a member of those once-future generations here on New Britain.
“I thank God from the depths of my heart for blessing me in such an abundant way when He brought Suara Auru Fred Hargesheimer,” she said.