During World War II, the Empire of Japan invaded Burma, a country of dense jungle sandwiched between India, China, and Thailand. The Army 1st Air Commando Group was charged with penetrating behind enemy lines to attack high-value Japanese targets. In April 1944, Technical Sergeant Ed Hladovcak, 23, was flying three wounded Soldiers back to base for medical treatment when his Vultee-Stinson L-1 Vigilant plane was attacked by the Japanese. It went down in a rice paddy surrounded by jungle, deep in enemy territory. Hladovcak and the three wounded Soldiers struggled to escape the swampy, malaria-infested terrain. A liaison aircraft was able to locate them but was unable to land for the rescue. The men waited for four days in the relentless heat, tormented by mosquitoes, their wounds festering, and under constant threat by nearby Japanese.
U.S. Army troops rest on a trail surrounded by impenetrable jungle, Burma, World War II.
A Fairchild PT-19 down in Burmese jungle during World War II. Its crew awaits rescue via helicopter.