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A Forgotten WWII Rescue Mission In 'Shangri La'

This article is more than 12 years old.

High in the mountains of Dutch New Guinea, beneath these clouds, an American army plane crashed some time ago. There were three survivors of the 24 passengers and crew. In this valley, the American Air Force is going to attempt the rescue of these people by pick-up glider. And when we get to the valley, I'm going to parachute in to photograph this rescue.

BOSTON — That's the introduction to a short film from 1945, recorded by documentary filmmaker Alexander McCann as he flew toward the site of the crash in a mysterious region of New Guinea known to Americans as "Shangri-La."

But until recently, the event had been long forgotten to history. Now, the story of the three survivors and their rescue is the subject of a new book, "Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II," by local author and Boston University journalism professor Mitch Zuckoff.

Zuckoff joined WBUR's Bob Oakes in the studio and described the circumstances by which these three American servicemen and women came to be stuck in uncharted territory — ripe with danger.

This program aired on April 29, 2011.

Bob Oakes Senior Correspondent
Bob Oakes was a senior correspondent in the WBUR newsroom, a role he took on in 2021 after nearly three decades hosting WBUR's Morning Edition.



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