Major MJ Hegar is a heroine. She saved not one but three helicopter crews in Afghanistan, as well as multiple US ground troops, and she did so all while being abandoned in combat by her cowardly peers and held back from her true potential by The Man.
At least, that seems to be how her story is being told.
US Air Force Major Mary Jennings Hegar was a US Air Force HH-60 helicopter rescue pilot in Afghanistan in 2009. (The Air Force rescue helos are know as Pedros — and, yes, they use a sombrero wearing mascot that would probably offend someone if they thought about it long enough.)
On July 29, 2009, her mission as the lead Pedro 15 went infamously sour. Hegar received a medal — and a Purple Heart — on that mission, and she now uses the story of that mission on the speaking circuit while she advertises her upcoming book — the movie rights for which have already been optioned (Angelina Jolie is rumored Read more
In a relatively recent tradition, each class of US Air Force Academy cadets since 2000 has chosen an “exemplar” representing the character and fortitude to which they would like to aspire. Exemplars have included airpower giants like Mitchell and Doolittle, famous fighter pilots like Olds, and Major David Brodeur, USAFA Class of 1999, who was killed in Afghanistan.
The USAFA Class of 2018 recently chose as its exemplar Capt Louis Zamperini, Army Air Corps bombardier, POW, and outspoken Christian:
Cadet 3rd Class J. Benson Anderson, Jr., an Exemplar Committee official, said Zamperini was selected because he demonstrated the character and conviction the Class of 2018 strives to maintain.
“His loyalty in Read more
Update: Franklin Graham describes the faith of Louis Zamperini here. Notably:
He found a Bible that had been issued by the air corps and began reading.
Seems some documented good came from the US military issuing Bibles during World War II.
Unbroken, the Laura Hillenbrand biography on Louis Zamperini (which made the 2012 CSAF Reading List), has been made into an Angelina Jolie-directed movie to be released on Christmas day.
A small controversy is brewing over the movie’s admitted generalization of “faith,” despite the importance of the Christian faith to Zamperini’s life story. Ultimately, this should be little surprise, given that the book Unbroken (reviewed here) similarly spent very little time on the topic — while Zamperini himself devoted a substantial portion of his autobiography, Devil at My Heels (reviewed here), to his conversion and faith experience.
Christianity Today columnist Alissa Wilkinson noted Unbroken seems to lack the “redemption” from its “Survival. Resilience. Redemption.” tagline (the same conclusion reached here about the book). Without knowing the actual story, one might think Zamperini’s inspiring story was one of self: Read more
Louis Zamperini was an Olympian in 1936, went on to become a B-24 bombardier, and would eventually become famous for surviving 47 days afloat in the Pacific Ocean — followed by two years in Japanese POW camps.
Zamperini died last Thursday, July 3rd, at the age of 97.
Zamperini wrote a book about his experiences entitled Devil at My Heels, which was reviewed here. Laura Hillenbrand, who wrote Seabiscuit and heard about Zamperini during her research, wrote another biography entitled Unbroken (reviewed here), which Read more