The forgotten story of American war hero Eddie Rickenbacker's crash landing in the Pacific during World War II, and his incredible twenty-three-day crusade to keep his crew alive
In the darkest days of World War II, an unlikely civilian was sent to deliver a letter from Washington to General MacArthur in New Guinea. Eddie Rickenbacker was a genuine icon, a pioneer of aviation, the greatest fighter pilot of the First World War, recipient of the Medal of Honor, who’d retired to become a renowned race car driver. Now in his fifties, one of the most admired men in America, Rickenbacker was again serving his nation, riding high above the Pacific as a passenger aboard a B-17.
But soon the plane was forced to crash-land on the ocean surface, leaving its eight occupants adrift in tiny rubber life rafts, hundreds of miles from the nearest speck of land. Lacking fresh water and with precious little food, the men faced days of unrelenting sun, followed by nights shivering in the cold, fighting pangs of hunger, exhaustion, and thirst, all the while circled by sharks. Each prayed to see a friendly vessel on the horizon, and dreaded the arrival of a Japanese warship. Meanwhile, as the US Navy scoured the South Pacific, American radio and newspapers back home parsed every detail of Rickenbacker's disappearance, and an adoring public awaited news of his fate.
Using survivors’ accounts and contemporary records, award-winning author John Wukovits brings to life a gripping story of survival, leadership, and faith in a time of crisis.