Frederic Grant Hargesheimer was born May 7, 1916 in Rochester, Olmsted County, Minnesota. Nicknamed "Fred". On August 18, 1941 he enlisted in the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet with Army serial number 32063187. After earning his wings he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.
During early 1942, Hargesheimer was assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 6th Photographic Reconnaissance Group (6th PRG), 8th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron (8th PRS) "Eight Ballers". On September 14, 1942 he flew F-4 Lightning 41-2098 from Melbourne to Townsville. As a F-5 Lightning pilot, he flew photographic reconnaissance missions from 14 Mile Drome (Schwimmer) near Port Moresby over Japanese occupied areas on New Guinea and New Britain.
On June 5, 1943, Hargesheimer piloted F-5A "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. On February 5, 1944 rescued by USS Gato (SS-212) and returned to duty.
Back in America, Hargesheimer 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 returned to New Britain to visit the crash site of his aircraft that had been discovered by locals.
Hargesheimer passed away on December 23, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska and was cremated. He is survived by his son Richard and daughters Carol and Mary Louise Gibson plus eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - Frederic G. Hargesheimer
E&E Report No. 34 - Frederic G. Hargesheimer pages 1-9
FredHargesheimer biographical website
70,000 to One (1947) by Quentin James Reynolds mentions Hargesheimer
Hostages to Freedom (1995) mentions Hargesheimer
UMN "Shot down over Papua New Guinea in '43, Minnesota native visits PNG project headquarters at the U" by G. Marty September 23, 1999 via Wayback Machine September 1, 2006
The National "The Cheif Warrior" October 13, 2000
School That Fell From the Sky (2002) by Fred Hargesheimer
Paradise Magazine May-June Issue (2006) by Cecilie Benjamin
AP WWII Pilot who forever repaid rescuers died December 23, 2010
FindAGrave - Lieut Frederic Grant “Fred” Hargesheimer (photos, obituary)