Fun Finds Friday - Veteran's Day edition!
by Lauren VanDenBerg on
“Fun” is not the word to describe this post or story, but in honor of Veterans Day this week I thought I would like to share a story of WWII military service that recently came across my desk while working on the Central Archives.
Hans Christian Adamson was a writer, reporter and Chairman of the Public and Press Information Committee of the American Museum of Natural History from 1938 until the United States joined the war in 1941.
In October 1942, then Col. Adamson set off with his friend (WWI Fighting Ace and racecar driver) Eddie Rickenbacker and a crew of six on a mission to tour air bases in the Pacific theater. Faulty navigation equipment caused their B-17D Flying Fortress to veer drastically off course en route to a refueling station on Canton Island.
Hundreds of miles off course and low on fuel, they were forced to ditch their aircraft in the Central Pacific.
Col. Adamson and his crew members were wounded during the crash landing, but all managed to escape the aircraft and make it into life rafts with basic provisions.
However, those provisions lasted only three days. The crew was able to survive on periodic rainwater, gulls they were able to capture, and whatever fish they were able to catch.
Suffering from sunburns, dehydration, starvation, hypothermia, and injuries that had occurred when they initially ditched the aircraft, the crew was eventually located and picked up! They had been at sea for 24 days.
Col. Adamson and surviving crew members, less one crew member who died during their time at sea, were brought to Walter Reed Hospital to recover from their injuries.
Col. Adamson did return to the museum as a public relations consultant in 1946. No word yet on if he and Vice-Director Wayne Faunce ever restarted the badminton matches referred to in the letter above.
This entry was written by Lauren VanDenBerg, Shelby White & Leon Levy Project Archivist.