The Airmen and the Headhunters

Contributors and Producers

Contributors

Judith Heimann, author/historian

Judith M. Heimann is the author of The Airmen and the Headhunters (Harcourt, 2007; 2d ed., pbk, 2009). Born in New York City, she comes from a family of writers. Judith was educated at Hunter College High School and Radcliffe College, Harvard University. She married her Harvard classmate, John P. Heimann. They began their life together in Indonesia, where John was a diplomat. In 1972, Judith also joined the State Department, usually serving in the same country as her husband. In 1997 Judith wrote The Most Offending Soul Alive: Tom Harrisson and His Remarkable Life (U. of Hawaii Press, 1999). It took her 200 interviews on four continents to piece together this extraordinary tale of a great English eccentric whom she had first known as her neighbour in Borneo. The book became the basis for an Icon Films TV documentary “The Barefoot Anthropologist”, presented by Sir David Attenborough for BBC4. Judith has spent seven years living in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines including two years in Borneo where she learned to speak Malay/ Indonesian. She traveled to three continents and interviewed many of the surviving Dayaks and all the surviving U.S. Airmen in her research for The Airmen and the Headhunters. Judith divides her time between Washington, DC, and Brussels, Belgium. She is currently at work on a new book, about Indonesia during the time she lived there.

Dan Illerich, US veteran/sole-surviving Airmen

Dan Illerich lives in Friendswood, Texas with his wife Mary. He is the last surviving Airmen in The Airmen and the Headhunters story. He provides the only first hand testimony of the American Airmen’s’ experiences with the Dayak tribes in Borneo. Of the ten men in the B-24 bomber crew shot down by the Japanese in November 1944, seven survived the parachute from the plane. Dan tells their story. Corporal Dan Ilerich was the crew’s radio operator. He was 19 years old when he landed in Borneo. Dan and his fellow airmen lived with the Dayak tribes’ people for several months before being rescued by Allied Special Forces. Dan Illerich was the last American airmen to leave Borneo. He stayed for as long as possible to assist the Z-Special forces with radio operations. Dan arrived back in America on 1st September 1945. He left the air force and enlisted in the reserve corps as a radio operative gunner. He attended University of Nevada and gained a BSC in Mechanical Engineering in 1950. He was a 2nd lieutenant in the Senior Reserve Officers Training Corps until 1954 when he transferred to the Californian Air National Guard and became a captain. In 1960 Dan was recalled for active service as an engineering officer in the US air force. He retired as a Lieutenant Cornel in 1973. Dan was never a pilot for the air force, he was an aircrew member. He stopped flying for the air force the day his crew were shot down in Borneo. However, after he retired Dan obtained his FAA certifications, and became a certificated flight instructor. Dan Illerich spent 22 years working as a flight instructor. He retired in 1994.

Jack Tredrea, former Australian commando

Jack Tredrea (real name Jonathan Tredrea) lives in Clapham, South Australia. Jack is one of the few surviving members of Z-Special unit, the group of Special Forces that assisted the downed American airmen and helped with their rescue. Jack was a member of Semut 1 (Semut means Ant in Malay) a group of undercover allied operatives lead by the eccentric English Major Tom Harrisson. Jack joined the army in November 1938 and learned Malay during training prior to the Semut missions in Borneo. Jack Tredrea was involved in allied secret operations against the Japanese in Borneo in 1945. He spent over seven months in the jungle, training and fighting with a party of thirty Iban guerrilla warriors. Jack gathered intelligence from all over the Kelabit Highlands and Kayan Territory, this information which was radioed back to the Northern Territories in Australia. Jack left Borneo after the end of the war and arrived in Australia in mid November 1945. He was discarded in April 1946 and returned to South Australia to take up his former employment as tailor. He retired at age 65. He has a daughter, 4 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

Bob Long, former Australian commando

Bob Long lives in Bayswater, West Australia with his wife Margery. He was born in Hounslow in the UK and emigrated to Australia with his parents at 6 months old. Bob Long first joined the army in 1941 he signed up to the signal platoon of the 28th infantry battalion. Were commenced his life as a signalman. He was later released to the First Australian Armoured division in Perth. When the threat of a Japanese invasion of Australia had diminished the armoured division was disbanded, and Bob was sent for retraining in Victoria, it was here that he was interviewed by an American major and accepted to Z-special unit. Bob Long was selected for Semut, and after parachute training at Richmond air force base in New South Wales he joined the advanced Semut party that parachuted into Borneo. He was part of the second group that parachuted into Borneo on 12th April 1945. Bob spent 7 months in Borneo as a radio operative. He was originally part of Semut 2 and later joined Semut 1 lead by eccentric English major Tom Harrisson. Towards the end of the operations Bob worked very closely with downed American airmen Dan Illerich, who assisted the Radio operations of Semut 1. Bob Long wrote a book Z Special Unit Secret War. Operation Semut 1 published in 1989 on his experiences and that of another twenty Semut operatives in Borneo.After the war ended Bob Long returned Australian and was home in October 1945. He remained in the military as a warrant officer, second in charge of the signal office at Swan Barracks, in Perth until he was discharged in March 1946. Bob retired in the mid 80’s. He has 7 children.

Lord Cranbrook

Lord Gathorne Cranbrook MA PhD DSc(Hon) JBS PNBS is the Chairman for the International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature, The Natural History Museum (London). He lives in Great Glemham in the UK. Lord Cranbrook first came to Sarawak in 1956, to take up an informal post as Technical Assistant to the Curator of the Sarawak Museum, Tom Harrisson. He has followed many lines of study on the natural biodiversity of Borneo and South-east Asia. Two of his special interests are cave swiftlets; and mammals, of the present and the past. He was external supervisor (to Dr Lim Chan Koon) in research at Bukit Sarang, leading to successful management of on the wild populations of black-nest swiftlets. His work on the living mammals was summarized in his authoritative “Annotated Checklist of the Mammals of Borneo” (1965, reprinted 1977). He has also spent 50 years studying the fossil fauna of the region, including mammals recovered in cave archaeological sites excavated in Sarawak and Sabah. This work provided insights on evolutionary trends among mammals in Borneo, including morphological change, ecological adaptations, range movements and prehistoric extinctions.

Production Biographies

Jared Lipworth, series executive producer

As director of science programs, Jared Lipworth is responsible for commissioning and executive producing all science programs produced by THIRTEEN’s Science, Natural History and Features department. Current projects in production or development include Secrets of the Dead IX, Ground War, Curious II, and The Human Spark, which is currently a finalist at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival for Presenter-Led programming. Recently completed projects include Curious, Warplane, Secrets of the Dead VII-VIII (with one program, Doping for Gold, up for a 2009 Emmy) and The Mysterious Human Heart, which won the 2008 Emmy for Science, Technology, and Nature programming.

Prior to becoming executive producer and then director of science programs, Lipworth was the series producer for the department’s technology series, Innovation. He also served as series producer for the Emmy-nominated Secrets of the Dead III and coordinating producer for many of the department’s projects, including Warrior Challenge, Secrets of the Pharaohs, the Emmy Award-winning Frontier House and The Secret Life of the Brain, Warship, Taxi Dreams, Echoes From the White House and Savage Planet. In 2003, Lipworth was nominated for a writing Emmy for Secrets of the Dead: Mystery of the Black Death. Additional credits at THIRTEEN include post-production producer for The American President and 1900 House and production assistant for Savage Seas, On The Trail of Mark Twain, The Great Balloon Race and Stories of Lupus.

Before arriving at THIRTEEN, Lipworth produced, directed and edited In the Footsteps of the Black Rhino for the BBC’s Animal Zone. He received his master’s degree in broadcast journalism from New York University, where he won the award for academic excellence, and he received his bachelor’s degree in business management from Cornell University.

Harry Marshall, executive producer

Harry Marshall was born and spent his childhood in India. After graduating from Oxford University with an MA in English he joined The South Bank Show at LWT, moving on to Border Television in programme development before joining Channel Four as Assistant Commissioning Editor of Youth Programmes. After leaving Channel Four Harry formed an independent production company, John Peel Productions in the Lake District in 1987. In 1990, Harry moved to Bristol and founded Icon Films in 1990 with his partner Laura Marshall. Harry acts as Executive Producer across all Icon commissions and directs the development team. Icon Films is currently working on over 22 hours of network production for the BBC, National Geographic, WNET, Discovery/Animal Planet and C4. Harry Marshall is the editorial liaison between productions and the broadcasters and shares responsibility with Icon’s Managing Director for client relationships. Much of his time is spent identifying new talent, both on-screen and production staff. Icon Films have for the past two years worked with the University of Bristol History Department with their MA course, for the Public History option, on the development and production of history programming. As an award winning writer, Harry is also invited to write for non-Icon documentaries as well as publications such as The Smithsonian magazine, Broadcast and Realscreen. Harry is also a regular participant on industry panels particularly in the area of script writing.

Mark Radice, director/producer

Mark Radice has been directing and producing documentaries and drama-documentaries since 2003. He wrote and directed Umbrella Assassin for PBS’ Secrets of the Dead (Thirteen/WNET New York) and Channel Five and was nominated for an Emmy (Outstanding Historical Programming). Other credits include: Horizon: Why Can’t We Predict Earthquakes and Britain from Above for the BBC; Human Body: Pushing the Limits for the Discovery Channel (nominated for a Primetime Emmy); and Great Escape for PBS (WGBH Boston) and Channel Five, which was nominated for a Grierson Award.

Andrew Quigley, editor

Andrew Quigley has worked extensively as an editor and director for BBC and Channel Four in the UK together with International broadcasters and theatrical producers. He was BAFTA nominated in 1998 for the 90 min documentary The Heart and Soul of Eric Morecambe and won the 2006 Special Jury Award at B.I.F.F. for the Feature Documentary Diameter of the Bomb. His directing work includes a three part series for BBC Allies at War, the TV Movie The Duel and A World in Arms for Channel Four. His recent film editing work includes the feature length TV drama Saddam’s Tribe – Bound by Blood and number of documentary films for the BBC Imagine Arts strand. He continues his film editing work in documentaries and has recently completed directing and editing an exclusive concert by film composer Alex Heffes at Tate Modern.

Chris Vile, camera

Chris Vile has a degree in Fine Art from Merton College, Oxford. He moved from painting, through photography to shooting documentaries and drama for TV. He’s a painter that went digital. Chris won the 2006 Emmy Award Winner for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Lighting & Scenic Design’ for The Crusades, the Crescent & the Cross.