Dieter Dengler Biography
(Second Captured U.S. Airman to Escape Enemy Captivity During the Vietnam War)
Birthday: May 22, 1938 (Gemini)
Born In: Wildberg, Germany
Dieter Dengler was a German-born United States Navy aviator who was the first captured U.S. pilot who escaped enemy captivity during the Vietnam war. He had escaped from the Pathet Lao prison camp in Laos after six months of torture and was rescued by American forces after surviving in the jungle for 23 days. His childhood hardship, as well as his training in escaping and survival at the navy SERE survival school, during which he had successfully escaped twice and was the only student to gain weight, helped him survive as a prisoner and make escape plans despite intolerable torture. He was also inspired by his maternal grandfather, Hermann Schnuerle, who was subjected to public humiliation and was sentenced to work in the rock mine for a year for refusing to vote for Adolf Hitler. After his recovery, he resumed service in the navy and later served as a private aircraft test pilot and a commercial airline pilot. He has been the subject of many documentaries, books and films, including the Christian Bale starrer, 'Rescue Dawn'.