Fred Hargesheimer joined the 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron during early 1942. On September 14, 1942 he ferried F-4 Lightning 41-2098 from Melbourne to Townsville. Afterwards, flew reconnaissance missions from 14 Mile Drome near Port Moresby over Japanese occupied airfields and targets on New Guinea and New Britain.
On June 5, 1943, Hargesheimer piloted F-5 "Eager Beaver 42-13073 on a mission over the New Britain and was shot down by a Ki-45 Nick. He parachuted into the jungle, where he barely survived for 31 days until found by local hunters who cared for him. Later, he was taken to the camp of Australian Commandos who arranged his rescue, along with other American and Australian aviators from behind enemy lines aboard a submarine on February 5, 1944.
Back in America, he wondered what he could to to repay
the villagers who had saved his life. Hargesheimer concluded that education
and health services would be his gifts to the Nakanai people. Postwar, he saved
and returned to New Guinea in 1960 and in 1964 donated money to establish two schools: Ewasse
Airmen's Memorial school and the Noau Primary school in West New Britain. He
and his wife even lived among the people to serve as teachers. A
health center was dedicated in 1969, with an oil palm plantation to fund
the projects. Nearly every year, he returns to visit
the school until July 2004. In 2006, he returnd to New Britain to viist the crash site of his aircraft that had been discovered by locals.
Hargesheimer passed away on December 23, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is survived by his son Richard and daughters Carol and Mary Louise Gibson plus eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
FredHargesheimer biographical website
Paradise Magazine May-June Issue by Cecilie Benjamin
AP WWII Pilot who forever repaid rescuers died December 23, 2010
Hargesheimer 1999 Visit (website down as of 2006)
The National "The Cheif Warrior" October 13, 2000
School That Fell From the Sky by Hargesheimer
Hostages to Freedom covers his escape
70,000 to One