On the afternoon of January 16, 1942, three men boarded a TBD Devastator aircraft - a low-wing, single-engine torpedo-bomber - for an antisubmarine patrol flight. Although it was to be a relatively short flight, they became lost. When the fuel ran low, they decided to ditch into the Pacific. Before they could get their life raft to inflate, however, the plane sank beneath them, carrying most of the survival gear down with it. Thirty-four days later the raft landed on Puka Puka, a New Zealand-governed atoll in the Danger Islands, having meandered 1,200 miles!
The story of the voyage, with few resources except courage and indomitable human spirit, is not only an inspiring listen, but a tribute to the human species and its will to survive. The miraculous escapes, especially the passage over a killer reef and the reaching of safety only a day ahead of a typhoon, also suggest that someone was looking over them.
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