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Letter to Malchus Hangiri from Wesley Dickenson Pilot of B-25C 41-12491
October 8, 1997

Click For EnlargementDear Malchus,

Your letter came as a complete surprise. Imagine being able to communicate with the son of Hangiri! I am indebted to someone in the church who passed on my letters to you. About ten years ago, I wrote my autobiography so my children would know my life.  One of the chapters and a significant one, was how I got shot down and what happened.  I am enclosing that chapter Bailing Out Over New Guinea.  I went to Gona mission, I stayed there for about 2 weeks and about a month after I left that mission the Japanese made a landing there.

About two years ago, I wondered if I could locate the sister of Mavis Parkinson.  I knew that she existed, but did not know if she was alive, what her name was, or where she lived!  I requested help on the internet in Australia and a day or so later received her name and address!  Since that time, we have been corresponding several times a year. Her sister's name is Betty and she still mourns the death of her sister.

One other man, Sgt Webb, parachuted from my airplane before I did.  He had read stories about Papuan head hunters and was fearful of the natives.  When he found a village, which he did, he hid out for a couple of days because of his fear, before he ventured in.  Like the people of Fufuda village, he was welcomed by the natives who took him to a mission farther down the coast.  I think the next mission after Gona towards Wedau.  When I left Gona on the mission boat, Father Benson, Miss Parkinson and Miss Hayman joined me on the boat and we all got off at the next mission where I was surprised and please to find Sgt. Webb.  When Webb and I continued in the boat to the south, the three missionaries walked back to Gona. (Webb died about 12 years ago).

In one month I will be 80 years old.  I don't travel much anymore and I cannot imagine coming to Papua.  There comes an age when you realize that you are not the man you used to be. (I was 24 when I was shot down).  I am still in good health.  My wife Muriel, and I are careful about what we eat and we both exercise every morning by going two miles.  We jog as much as possible, and walk the rest.  So we job a little more than a mile of that trip.  I cannot take hot weather very well anymore.  Without the help of your father and the others in the village I would not have been able to survive.  I have pleasant memories of my brief time in Fufuda.

One final note before I close this letter.  Before I was shot down we were flying in a loose formation, so that I was about 100 yards away from our flight leader.  If I had been merely a foot or two further away, I would have died from the shell that destroyed my co-pilot.

Best Wishes


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