The Airmen and the Headhunters

Friday, March 8, 2013
Judith M. Heimann


In 1944, a crew of Army airmen flew out as one of fifty-four B-24 bombers from their base in the Netherlands East Indies, near the Philippines, on a bombing mission to the Borneo coast. Their target was a lone Japanese heavy cruiser, possibly accompanied by a single aircraft carrier. What they encountered instead was what was left of nearly the entire Japanese Imperial fleet. Amid heavy antiaircraft fire, they were shot down and crash-landed in the uncharted interior jungles of Japanese-occupied Borneo. Some of the crew parachuted to safety, but still may have perished from starvation, injuries, or discovery by Japanese troops were it not for the assistance of the Dayak, one of the native headhunter tribes. The Dayak cared for and protected the surviving airmen at tremendous danger to themselves, their families, and neighboring tribes. Headhunting had been outlawed for many years, but resumed again in order to protect the American soldiers and allow them to be rescued by Allied forces. In what sounds like a good storyline for a zombie horror film, this is a fascinating and gripping true account of Bornean headhunters and their role in the Allies winning the war in the South Pacific. Check the HCDL Catalog for the Audio Book and MeLCat for the Printed Book!

Laura P., Circulation

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