BlainThePain Posted May 16, 2007 Report Share Posted May 16, 2007 http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0462504/plotsummary This film tells the real-life story of U.S. fighter pilot Dieter Dengler, a German-American shot down and captured in Laos during the Vietnam War. Dengler, to be played by [Christian] Bale, organized a death-defying escape for a small band of POWs, including Duane Martin (Zahn).From wikipedia about Dengler:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dieter_DenglerFamily and early lifeDieter Dengler grew up in the small town of Wildberg in the Black Forest region of Germany. He was very close to his mother and brothers. Dieter did not know his father who was killed while serving in the German army during World War II. His grandfather was declared a political enemy of the Nazi's for being the only citizen in his town who did not vote for Hitler. Dieter credited his grandfather's resolve as being a major inspiration to him during his time in Laos. His grandfather's willingness to stand up for what he believed in despite great danger was one reason Dieter refused to sign a document decrying American aggression in SE Asia which was presented to him by the North Vietnamese after his crash. Dieter's first experience with aircraft came when he was very young and witnessed Allied aircraft flying over his town from his bedroom window. From that moment, he wanted to be a pilot.In post-war Germany, there was no aviation (civil or military), so Dieter bided his time and did some apprentice work as a blacksmith and clock maker to help the family make ends meet. When he turned 18, he headed to New York with the dream of becoming a pilot. He lived off the streets of Manhattan for just over a week and eventually found his way to an Air Force recruiter. He was assured that piloting aircraft was what the Air Force was all about, so he enlisted and went to basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. After basic, Dieter ended up in the kitchen peeling potatoes. After two years in the Air Force and never getting near a plane, Dieter realized he needed to go to college. He ended up living out of a VW bus in California while attending night school. After having received his US citizenship and degree, he joined the Navy. Promptly after completing flight school successfully, he was put on an aircraft carrier headed for Vietnam.In 1966, Dengler served aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) with VA-145 (Attack Squadron 145). At the time, the squadron was equipped with the Douglas AD-6/A-1H Skyraider, a single engine, propeller driven attack plane. On the morning of 1 February, Lt. Dengler launched from the Ranger with three other aircraft on an interdiction mission near the Laotian border. Visibility was poor due to weather, and upon rolling in on the target, Lt. Dengler and the remainder of his flight lost sight of one another. Dengler was the last man in and was hit by anti-aircraft fire. He was forced to crash-land his Skyraider in Laos.Evasion, captivity and rescueLt. Dengler managed to evade capture for a time, but was eventually apprehended by Pathet Lao troops. They binded his hands and marched him through the jungle, stopping at various villages along the way. At one point, he escaped, but was captured again when he came down from higher ground to get water. From this point on, his captors tortured him. They devised various methods, but some included hanging him upside down while putting ant nests on his face until he passed out, inserting bamboo shoots under his fingernails and skin and suspending him in a well.Dengler was eventually brought to a prison camp where he met other US and Thai POWs. Once Dengler saw the other prisoners, he set his mind squarely on escape. Not all of the prisoners were eager to join him, but once they overheard their captors discussing the potential of shooting them in the jungle and making it look like an escape attempt, everyone was on board with the plan. One day while the guards were eating, Dengler slipped his hand and foot restraints and grabbed one of the guard's unattended submachine guns. The Pathet Lao guards spotted some of the other prisoners trying to escape. A shootout between the two sides ensued leaving five guards dead. Two others ran off, presumably to get help. The surviving prisoners became separated in the mayhem. Dieter headed for the Mekong river to escape to Thailand with fellow prisoner, Lt. Duane W. Martin. Dengler and Martin eventually made their way to a small village. They tried to greet the villagers, but one of them attacked Martin with a machete...initially hitting him in the thigh and then beheading him. Dengler managed to escape back into the jungle.Near death and ready to stop running to either perish or be found, Dengler stopped on a large rock on a river bank and made a crude "S.O.S." with parachute material he had managed to find in the jungle. It just so happened that a flight of Air Force Skyraiders from the 1st Air Commando Squadron was flying up the river at that time. Eugene Peyton Deatrick, the pilot of the lead plane, spotted Dengler while making a turn at the river's bend. After a few passes, he called in rescue helicopters that came in and picked Dengler up. Fearing that Dengler might be a Viet Cong soldier, the helicopter crew restrained him when he was brought aboard. One of the crew holding him down pulled out a half eaten snake from underneath Dengler's clothing and was so surprised he nearly fell out of the helicopter. Deatrick radioed the rescue helicopter crew to see if they could identify the person they had just hoisted up from the jungle. They reported that they had a man who claimed to be a downed Navy pilot.Later life and deathDengler continued flying upon his return to the United States and survived 4 subsequent crashes as a civilian test pilot. He continued flying almost up until his death. Dengler died on February 7, 2001 of Lou Gehrig's Disease, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.Military honorsDengler is a recipient of the following medals: * Navy Cross * Distinguished Flying Cross * Purple Heart * Air Medal Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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