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The Airmen and the Headhunters

Watch the entire episode of Secrets of the Dead, “The Airmen and the Headhunters” online! This spectacular long-lost story of heroism, perseverance, and ingenuity follows the tale of lost WWII soldiers, their unlikely rescue and companionship with the Dayak tribe in Borneo, and their eventual rescue conceived by an eccentric British Major — an airway built out of bamboo in the middle of the jungle.

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'SECRETS OF THE DEAD'WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS TO YOUR PBS STATION FR Narrator: AT THE HEIGHT OF WORLD WAR II, AS BATTLES RAGED AROUND THE WORLD, A LITTLE-KNOWN CONFLICT TOOK PLACE IN THE REMOTE JUNGLES OF BORNEO.

THE UNLIKELY ALLIES: A CREW OF STRANDED AMERICAN AIRMEN HIDING FROM THE JAPANESE... INDIGENOUS TRIBES WHO STILL FOUGHT WITH BLOWPIPES AND MACHETES... [MAN GROANS] AND AN ECCENTRIC BRITISH MAJOR, HELL-BENT ON TAKING JUNGLE WARFARE TO THE ENEMY.

Second man: THERE IS ONLY ONE SORT OF RULE IN JUNGLE WARFARE-- 'DO NOT BE SMELT BEFORE YOU'RE HEARD; 'DO NOT BE HEARD BEFORE YOU ARE SEEN; AND, BELOW ALL, DO NOT BE SEEN.'

Narrator: THE YOUNG, NAIVE U.S. AIR CREW THOUGHT THEY HAD LANDED AMONG BLOODTHIRSTY SAVAGES... BUT THEY QUICKLY FOUND OUT THEY WERE WRONG.

Third man: THEY PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINE TO PREVENT OUR CAPTURE, AND WE BEGAN TO REALIZE THAT, SO THOSE PEOPLE WERE RISKING EVERYTHING.

Narrator: AS ISLAND TRADITIONS MET WESTERN CONFLICT, THE VERY DEFINITIONS OF CIVILIZATION AND CULTURE WERE TESTED... AND AN OUTLAWED, BLOODY RITE WAS RESURRECTED.

Fourth man: I SAW... 4 JAPS LOSE THEIR HEADS.

I KNEW QUITE WELL IF THEY GOT ME, I WAS DEAD.

Narrator: NOVEMBER 16, 1944-- THE DAY WORLD WAR II CRASHED HEADLONG INTO THE TROPICAL ISLAND OF BORNEO.

HIGH ABOVE THE CLOUDS, A HUGE FORMATION OF AMERICAN B-24 LIBERATORS WAS ON A ROUTINE MISSION TO BOMB JAPANESE SHIPS.

SITTING IN ONE OF THE AIRCRAFT WAS WIRELESS OPERATOR DAN ILLERICH.

THE NAVY HAD SEEN OR IDENTIFIED A JAPANESE AIRCRAFT CARRIER HEADED FOR BRUNEI BAY, AND SO WE WERE TO TRY TO FIND THAT AIRCRAFT CARRIER AND DO WHAT WE COULD.

Narrator: IT TOOK THE LIBERATORS 5 1/4 HOURS TO GET TO BRUNEI BAY FROM THEIR AIRBASE IN THE DUTCH EAST INDIES.

THE 11-MAN CREW ON DAN'S PLANE HAD BEEN TOGETHER FOR LESS THAN 6 MONTHS; THEY WERE ON THEIR EIGHTH MISSION.

THE OLDEST AMONG THEM WAS ONLY 22.

Illerich: THIS IS THE PILOT, TOM COBERLY.

THIS IS THE CO-PILOT, JERRY ROSENTHAL.

THIS IS THE NAVIGATOR, FRED BRENNEN.

THIS WAS THE BOMBARDIER, PHIL CORRIN.

THIS WAS JIM KNOCH, THE ENGINEER, THIS WAS ME, THE RADIO OPERATOR.

I WAS 18 WHEN THIS PICTURE WAS TAKEN, JUST GETTING READY TO TURN 19.

Narrator: YOUNG AND INEXPERIENCED, THESE AIRMEN WERE FIGHTING THE WAR ABOVE A MYSTERIOUS COUNTRY THEY KNEW LITTLE ABOUT.

THE THIRD-LARGEST ISLAND IN THE WORLD, BORNEO IS SPARSELY POPULATED AND COVERED IN DENSE, MOUNTAINOUS JUNGLE.

ZOOLOGIST GATHORNE CRANBROOK HAS SPENT HIS LIFE STUDYING THIS WILD COUNTRYSIDE AND ITS MANY NATURAL RESOURCES.

BORNEO WAS VERY UNDER-EXPLORED.

THE FORESTS WERE NOT REGARDED AS AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE BECAUSE TIMBER EXTRACTION WAS IMPOSSIBLE IN THOSE DAYS.

BORNEO WAS ALWAYS REPUTED TO HAVE GOLD, AND WHAT BORNEO DID ACTUALLY HAVE WAS OIL.

Narrator: BORNEO'S OIL MADE IT AN IMPORTANT BATTLEGROUND DURING WORLD WAR II.

AFTER THEIR ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR IN DECEMBER 1941, THE JAPANESE SWIFTLY CAPTURED TERRITORIES ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA.

BORNEO--UNDER BRITISH AND DUTCH COLONIAL RULE-- WAS ONE OF THE FIRST TO FALL, AND SOON THE ISLAND WAS SUPPLYING NEARLY HALF THE OIL FOR JAPAN'S WAR MACHINE.

BUT BY NOVEMBER OF 1944, AS THE AMERICAN LIBERATORS APPROACHED BRUNEI BAY, THE TIDE HAD TURNED.

JAPAN WAS LOSING ITS GRIP ON THE REGION, AND THE U.S. ARMY AIR FORCES WERE REGULARLY BOMBING OIL TANKERS COMING INTO AND OUT OF BORNEO.

EXPECTING A ROUTINE FLIGHT, DAN ILLERICH'S SQUADRON WAS SURPRISED BY HEAVIER-THAN-EXPECTED RESISTANCE.

FLYING INTO A MAELSTROM OF ANTI-AIRCRAFT FIRE, DAN'S PLANE WAS HIT.

Illerich: THEY TOOK US IN STRAIGHT AND LEVEL FOR TOO LONG, AND THAT GAVE THE JAP GUNNERS A CHANCE TO, YOU KNOW, PICK US UP.

Narrator: WITH THE FLIGHT DECK AND RUDDER CONTROL BADLY DAMAGED, THE AIRCRAFT VEERED OFF OVER BORNEO'S JUNGLE INTERIOR.

DEEP IN THE FOREST, THE LOCAL TRIBESPEOPLE HAD NO IDEA THEIR LIVES WERE ABOUT TO BE CHANGED BY THE APPROACHING AIRCRAFT.

TWO YOUNG BOYS SAW THE PLANE DESCEND.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] YES, IT WAS VERY LOW IN THE SKY AND SMOKING.

[SECOND MAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] ALL WE COULD HEAR WAS THE SOUND, AND THEN WE SAW THE SMOKE. THAT'S ALL WE SAW.

WHEN IT REACHED LONG KASURUN, WE SAW THESE PARACHUTES, AND THEY CAME DOWN.

Illerich: WE HAD NEVER MADE A JUMP.

WE DIDN'T KNOW HOW WE WERE GOING TO LAND ON THE GROUND.

I WENT DOWN THROUGH A BUNCH OF BUSHES AND TREES AND STUFF.

I THINK THAT'S WHERE I GOT MY FACE ALL BLOODY.

Narrator: THE AIRMEN WERE SCATTERED ACROSS THE JUNGLE.

NOT ALL OF THEM SURVIVED.

[BALANG SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] FOUR OF THEM FELL SOME DISTANCE FROM THE PLANE, BUT TWO LANDED A BIT CLOSER.

THE MAN WHO WAS CLOSEST TO THE PLANE DIED, BUT HE DIDN'T BURN TO DEATH.

Illerich: LIEUTENANT CORRIN AND I LANDED ALMOST ON TOP OF EACH OTHER.

Narrator: DAN AND PHIL CORRIN, THE BOMBARDIER, LANDED SOME DISTANCE FROM THE PLANE.

THEY HAD NO IDEA WHETHER ANY OF THEIR FELLOW CREWMEMBERS WERE STILL ALIVE.

BUT DAN DID KNOW THAT HE WAS THE ONLY ONE FROM HIS SECTION OF THE PLANE TO HAVE MADE IT OUT SAFELY.

Illerich: I'M THE ONLY SURVIVOR OFF OF THAT FLIGHT DECK.

THERE WERE 4 OF US ON THE FLIGHT DECK.

FRED BRENNEN, THE NAVIGATOR, WAS KILLED OUTRIGHT.

THE PILOT, TOM COBERLY, HAD SERIOUS WOUNDS IN HIS LEG, COMPOUND FRACTURE OF HIS LEG.

THE CO-PILOT, JERRY ROSENTHAL, HAD A VERY SEVERE WOUND ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HIS HEAD.

I THINK THAT JERRY ROSENTHAL LIVED LONG ENOUGH TO GET US OUT OF THE AIRPLANE, AND I THINK WHY WE WENT DOWN, WHY THE AIRPLANE STARTED TO SPIN AND WE HAD TO LEAVE IT, WAS JERRY DIED.

Narrator: DAN AND PHIL KNEW THE BURNING AIRCRAFT WOULD SOON DRAW UNWANTED ATTENTION TO THEIR POSITION.

THEY NEEDED TO MOVE.

Illerich: WE WERE ON THE SIDE OF THE HILL, VERY CLOSE TO WHERE THE AIRPLANE WENT IN AND, OF COURSE, WE WANTED TO GET AWAY FROM THERE, SO IT WAS DOWNHILL.

IT WAS PURE JUNGLE.

WE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE WE WERE, WE DIDN'T KNOW WHO WE WERE GOING TO DEAL WITH, AND WE WERE GOING TO HAVE TO TRY TO GET OURSELVES ORGANIZED SOMEHOW.

WE HAD NO IDEA OF JAPANESE OCCUPATION OF WHERE WE WERE.

Narrator: THEIR NUMBER-ONE PRIORITY WAS TO AVOID CAPTURE BY THE JAPANESE.

JAPAN'S SOLDIERS WERE KNOWN TO TORTURE AND EXECUTE THEIR PRISONERS.

A PHOTOGRAPH OF ONE PARTICULAR BEHEADING HAD BEEN WIDELY CIRCULATED AMONG ALLIED AIRCREWS.

FORTUNATELY, THE HEROISM OF THEIR DYING CO-PILOT HAD BOUGHT THE MEN SEVERAL PRECIOUS WEEKS.

THE B-24 HAD CRASHED NEAR THE SETTLEMENT OF LONG KASURUN, A GOOD DISTANCE FROM THE JAPANESE GARRISONS ON THE COAST.

BUT THE REMOTENESS OF THEIR LOCATION BROUGHT A NEW SET OF DANGERS.

THE AIRMEN HAD FALLEN INTO THE TERRITORY OF THE SO-CALLED 'WILD MEN OF BORNEO.'

THE OUTSIDE WORLD CALLED THEM DAYAKS, BUT THEY WERE ACTUALLY A GROUP OF MORE THAN 200 DIFFERENT TRIBES, MANY WITH FIERCE REPUTATIONS.

WHEN THE PLANE CRASHED, THEY WENT TO INVESTIGATE.

[BALANG SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] IT WAS A FEW DAYS BEFORE WE COULD GET TO THE PLANE.

THE DAY AFTER IT HAPPENED, WE COULDN'T GET CLOSE TO THE PLANE.

THE FIRE WAS VERY HOT, AND WE COULDN'T GO NEAR IT.

THE RIVER WAS FULL OF FUEL, SO MUCH FUEL.

LOTS OF THE JUNGLE AROUND THE RIVER WAS BURNT BECAUSE OF ALL THE FUEL IN THE RIVER.

Narrator: AS THE DAYAKS APPROACHED, DAN AND PHIL MOVED OFF DOWN THE MOUNTAIN... BUT THEY DIDN'T DO MUCH TO COVER THEIR TRACKS.

Illerich: AT THE POINT WE CAME OUT, THERE WAS A BEACH AREA WHERE WE WERE.

AND WE WERE SITTING ON THE SAND, THE SLOPE OF THE SAND... WHEN BOTH OF US FELT THAT WE WERE-- YOU KNOW, SOMETHING WAS HAPPENING. WE SENSED IT.

AND THAT WAS WHEN THE DAYAKS FIRST FOUND US, AND THEY RELUCTANTLY APPEARED.

THEY WERE ACROSS THE RIVER, AND THEY WERE BEING VERY CAUTIOUS ABOUT APPROACHING.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] WE HAD NO IDEA WHO THEY WERE.

EVERYONE WAS SCARED. NO ONE KNEW WHAT WAS GOING ON.

Illerich: AND THEN ONE OF THE DAYAKS GOT BRAVE ENOUGH TO COME ACROSS THE STREAM TOWARDS US.

AND AS HE WALKED UP THE SAND BANK AND HE SAW THE HOLSTER, AND ALL OF A SUDDEN, HE STARTED HOLLERING, 'OOH-SAH, OOH-SAH!'

U.S.A.

Narrator: DAN AND PHIL WERE AMAZED THAT THESE SO-CALLED SAVAGES HAD EVEN HEARD OF THE U.S.

THE AIRMEN WOULD SOON LEARN THAT OTHER AMERICANS HAD PRECEDED THEM TO THESE JUNGLES IN MORE PEACEFUL TIMES.

IN THE 1930s, PROTESTANT MISSIONARIES HAD COME TO BORNEO TO PROSELYTIZE.

AMONG THEM WAS REVEREND JOHN WILLFINGER, WHO HAD SUCCESSFULLY CONVERTED MANY OF THE DAYAKS-- INCLUDING HALF OF KAPUNG BALANG'S LUN DAYEH TRIBE-- TO CHRISTIANITY.

BUT THE JAPANESE INVASION BROUGHT THE MISSIONARY WORK TO AN END.

HISTORIAN JUDITH HEIMANN HAS STUDIED THE HORRORS OF THE JAPANESE ARRIVAL.

Heimann: MOST OF THE MISSIONARIES HAD BEEN ROUNDED UP AND TAKEN OFF TO A CAMP AND MURDERED, INCLUDING THE WIVES AND THE BABIES, AND THIS HORRIFIED... JUST HORRIFIED THE LUN DAYEH.

THEIR FAVORITE LOCAL MISSIONARY, JOHN WILLFINGER, WHO HAD ESCAPED FROM THIS BECAUSE HE HAPPENED TO HAVE BEEN UP COUNTRY, GAVE HIMSELF UP AND WAS TAKEN DOWN TO TARAKAN AND WAS EXECUTED THERE ON CHRISTMAS EVE.

Narrator: WILLFINGER'S BEHEADING BRED IN THE LUN DAYEH A DEEP HATRED FOR THE JAPANESE.

AND WITH THE ARRIVAL OF THE AIRMEN, THEY HAD A CHANCE TO GET BACK AT THEIR ENEMIES.

THEY WELCOMED THE AMERICANS INTO THEIR COMMUNAL LONGHOUSES.

Illerich: WE WENT DIRECTLY TO A LONGHOUSE.

THEY PREPARED DINNER FOR US, AND THEN, AS THE SUN WENT DOWN, IT BECAME DARK.

WE SAT AROUND THE FIRE AND THEY WENT ABOUT THEIR CUSTOMARY THINGS OF DOING AND THEY SHOWED US WHERE THEY WANTED US TO GO TO SLEEP AND WE JUST--WE SPENT THE NIGHT.

Narrator: DEEP IN THE HEART OF BORNEO, THE AIRMEN HAD FOUND SHELTER WITH A MOST UNEXPECTED ALLY.

BUT IT REMAINED UNCLEAR HOW FAR THE DAYAKS WOULD GO TO PROTECT THEM, WHEN THE ARMED JAPANESE PATROLS ARRIVED FROM THE COAST.

THE FOLLOWING MORNING, THE LUN DAYEH LED DAN AND PHIL TO A LEAN-TO IN THE JUNGLE.

THERE THEY FOUND FLIGHT ENGINEER JIM KNOCH AND NOSE GUNNER EDDY HAVILAND.

Illerich: THE 4 OF US GOT TOGETHER.

EDDY WAS BLINDED. HE WAS--HE COULDN'T SEE BECAUSE OF SOME CUT WOUNDS AND WOUNDS TO HIS EYE, SO WE STAYED THERE UNTIL EDDY WAS ABLE TO SEE AND MAYBE BE ABLE TO WALK.

Narrator: WITH NO INFORMATION ON THE WHEREABOUTS OF THE OTHER CREW MEMBERS, THE 4 SURVIVORS BEGAN THINKING ABOUT RESCUE.

THEY HAD BEEN BRIEFED THAT U.S. SUBMARINES OFTEN PASSED BY THE NORTHERN TIP OF BORNEO LOOKING FOR DOWNED AIRMEN.

BUT WITH THEIR INJURIES, THE HARSH TERRAIN, AND JAPANESE PATROLS ALONG THE COAST, TREKKING THE 200 MILES TO THE SPOT WAS NOT AN OPTION.

INSTEAD, THEY PREPARED TO MEET WITH WILLIAM MAKAHANAP, THE LOCAL ADMINISTRATOR CHARGED WITH RUNNING THIS JUNGLE REGION FOR THE JAPANESE.

Illerich: OK, THIS IS A PHOTO OF WILLIAM MAKAHANAP.

VERY BRAVE MAN WITH A VERY BRAVE WIFE RIGHT BEHIND HIM, POWER BEHIND THE THRONE.

Narrator: MAKAHANAP WAS AN INDONESIAN WHO HAD WORKED AS A TEACHER WITH THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES.

NOW, HE WAS THE RELUCTANT LIAISON BETWEEN THE DAYAKS AND THE JAPANESE.

WHEN NEWS OF THE DOWNED AIRCRAFT REACHED HIM, HE HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO INFORM HIS BOSSES FURTHER DOWNRIVER.

BUT ALTHOUGH HE OFFICIALLY ANSWERED TO THE JAPANESE, MAKAHANAP'S LOYALTIES LAY WITH THE TRIBESPEOPLE.

HE IS STILL FONDLY REMEMBERED.

[MAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] THAT MAN WAS REALLY GOOD WITH THE PEOPLE.

THAT WAS MAKAHANAP.

HE WAS WORKING AS THE DISTRICT OFFICER HERE.

Narrator: COMMITTED CHRISTIANS, MAKAHANAP AND HIS WIFE KNEW IT WAS UP TO THEM TO KEEP THE AIRMEN FROM MEETING THE SAME FATE AS THEIR MISSIONARY PREDECESSORS.

HIS JOB WAS TO TURN THEM OVER TO THE JAPANESE, AND BETWEEN HIS OWN CONSCIENCE AND THE EVEN MORE STRENUOUS CONSCIENCE OF HIS CHRISTIAN WIFE, HE COULDN'T DO IT.

Narrator: MAKAHANAP SET UP A MEETING WITH THE LOCAL DAYAK HEADMEN AND ASKED THEM TO HELP HIM HIDE THE AMERICANS.

BUT FINDING A GOOD HIDING PLACE PRESENTED A CHALLENGE.

MANY OF THE CHRISTIAN DAYAKS TOOK THEIR RELIGION SO SERIOUSLY, THEY WOULD BE UNABLE TO LIE WHEN THE JAPANESE QUESTIONED THEM.

SO MAKAHANAP NEEDED TO MOVE THE AIRMEN TO A MORE REMOTE AREA, WHERE UNCONVERTED DAYAKS STILL PRACTICED THEIR ANCIENT RITUALS.

Illerich: MAKAHANAP STARTED MOVING US WEST, DEEPER INTO NON-CHRISTIAN AREAS.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] WHEN THE JAPANESE HEARD THE AMERICAN AIRMEN HAD LANDED IN THE JUNGLE, THEY CAME UP TO LONG BERANG TO LOOK FOR THEM.

Narrator: LONG BERANG WAS THE ADMINISTRATIVE CENTER OF MAKAHANAP'S DISTRICT, AND ALSO WHERE HE LIVED WITH HIS YOUNG FAMILY.

MAKAHANAP HAD TOLD THE JAPANESE THAT THE AIRMEN HAD CRASH-LANDED SOMEWHERE NEARBY, BUT HAD NOT REVEALED THAT THE DAYAKS HAD FOUND THEM AND WERE HIDING THEM IN THE FOREST.

[MAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] WE BUILT HUTS FOR THE AMERICANS TWICE.

THEY SPENT ONE NIGHT IN THE FIRST HUT, AND ON THE SECOND NIGHT, WE MOVED THEM SOMEWHERE UPRIVER, TO A SMALL RIVER ON A ROUTE THAT NO ONE WOULD PASS ALONG.

Narrator: MAKAHANAP KNEW THAT IF HIS SUBTERFUGE WAS EVEN SUSPECTED, THE JAPANESE WOULD REAP TERRIBLE REVENGE ON HIM, HIS FAMILY, AND THE DAYAKS IN HIS DISTRICT.

SO IN EARLY DECEMBER, 3 WEEKS AFTER THE CRASH, DAN AND THE OTHER AIRMEN WERE MOVED EVEN DEEPER INTO THE JUNGLE.

Illerich: IT WAS ABOUT A WEEK OR 10 DAYS THAT THEY HAD US ON THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN, WHEN THEY CAME AND GOT US AGAIN, AND TOOK US TO WHAT WE CALLED POLE CAT GULCH, WHICH WAS DOWN IN A VERY STEEP RAVINE, HAD RUNNING WATER, AND THEY LEFT US WITH AN AMOUNT OF DRY RICE AND CHOPPED WOOD AND A POT TO COOK IN, AND THEY INDICATED TO US TO STAY PUT, DON'T GO ANYWHERE, JUST STAY HERE.

Narrator: THE 4 AIRMEN REMAINED HIDDEN FOR THE NEXT 6 WEEKS, COMPLETELY DEPENDENT ON THE DAYAKS FOR THEIR SURVIVAL.

THEIR INJURIES, INCLUDING EDDY'S DAMAGED EYE, WERE HEALING, BUT MALNUTRITION AND THE JUNGLE HEAT WERE TAKING THEIR TOLL.

BY THE MIDDLE OF JANUARY 1945, EACH MAN HAD LOST CLOSE TO 30 POUNDS.

I ALWAYS HAD A HOPE THAT WE WERE GONNA MAKE IT, THAT WE WERE GONNA GET OUT OF IT SOMEHOW.

I DIDN'T KNOW HOW WE WERE GONNA DO IT, BUT I THINK WE WERE BEING VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.

Narrator: WHILE THE AMERICANS HID IN THE GULCH, SMALL GROUPS OF JAPANESE SOLDIERS HAD BEEN FRUITLESSLY SEARCHING FOR THEM AND THE REMAINS OF THEIR PLANE.

FINALLY, THE AUTHORITIES DECIDED TO SEND IN A LARGE PATROL TO FLUSH THE AIRMEN OUT ONCE AND FOR ALL.

[RUGUK SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] THERE WAS CHAOS IN THE VILLAGE.

THE JAPANESE WERE COMING IN AND OUT.

PEOPLE FROM OTHER VILLAGES CAME TO LOOK FOR THE AMERICANS.

I TOLD THEM THE AMERICANS HAD LEFT AND WE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE THEY'D GONE.

Narrator: THE DAYAKS' STUBBORN REFUSAL TO GIVE UP THE AMERICANS HAD STRAINED JAPANESE PATIENCE TO THE BREAKING POINT.

THEY KNEW THEY HAD BEEN TRICKED, AND WERE LOOKING FOR REVENGE.

[LABAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] THE JAPANESE WERE ASKING US, 'WHERE ARE THE AIRMEN?'

THEY WENT TO LOOK FOR THE AIRMEN, BUT WE'D HIDDEN THEM.

THE JAPANESE WERE VERY ANGRY.

Narrator: THE JAPANESE HOSTILITY STRUCK A RAW NERVE IN THE DAYAKS, WHO ALREADY HARBORED A DEEP RESENTMENT FOR THEIR OCCUPIERS.

NOT ONLY HAD THE JAPANESE BEHEADED THEIR BELOVED MISSIONARIES, THEY HAD CONFISCATED FOOD AND GOODS, KILLED LIVESTOCK, WORST OF ALL, MISTREATED THE LOCAL WOMEN.

[LABAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] THEY ALWAYS BOTHERED THE GIRLS.

THEY WOULD GO AFTER THEM.

THAT'S WHY WE WERE SO UPSET WITH THEM.

[BARU SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] ALL THE PEOPLE HAD A BIG MEETING ABOUT KILLING THE JAPANESE.

THEY WERE SAYING, 'IF WE DON'T KILL THEM, THEN WE'LL BECOME THE VICTIMS.

THEY'LL EXECUTE ALL OF US.'

Narrator: ENRAGED AND DESPERATE, MAKAHANAP AND THE DAYAKS WERE ABOUT TO CROSS A DANGEROUS LINE.

THEY DECIDED IT WAS TIME TO FIGHT BACK.

A GROUP OF WARRIORS CREPT INTO A LONGHOUSE AND KILLED 3 JAPANESE SOLDIERS WITH MACHETES.

[MEN GROAN] BUT THERE WERE MORE COMING, BROUGHT BY DAYAK BOATMEN WHO HAD BEEN FORCED INTO SERVICE.

[BARU SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] TWO BOATS CAME, MAYBE 3 OR 4 BOATS.

THE RIVER WAS FLOODED AT THE TIME.

WHEN THEY REACHED THE RAPIDS AT LONG PAKU, ALL OF THE BOATMEN STEPPED OUT AND STARTED DRAGGING THE BOATS UP THE RIVER.

AFTER THEY'D PULLED THE BOATS UP, THEY MADE CAMP AND THE JAPANESE STARTED SLEEPING INSIDE THE BOATS.

THEY WERE STILL ASLEEP WHEN THE BOATMEN TURNED AROUND AND STABBED THEM ALL TO DEATH.

Narrator: EVEN THE WOMEN WERE ENLISTED IN THE FIGHT.

MAKAHANAP CAME UP WITH A DARING PLAN TO LURE THE JAPANESE SOLDIERS INTO A TRAP USING NUDITY.

Laban: WE ASKED BINUM AND SOME OF THE OTHER GIRLS TO BATHE NAKED IN THE RIVER AND STAND ON THE ROCK, CALLING OUT TO THE JAPANESE.

THEN THE JAPANESE CAME DOWN TO THE RIVER AND WENT TOWARDS THEM.

MY FRIEND LASUNG DAWAT AND I TOOK OUT OUR SPEARS AND STABBED THEM AND SLASHED THEM IN THE BACK.

Narrator: BUT THE DAYAKS WEREN'T JUST EXECUTING THE JAPANESE.

WITH MAKAHANAP'S TACIT APPROVAL, THE WARRIORS HAD AGREED TO RESURRECT AN ANCIENT, BLOODY RITUAL.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] YES, WE CUT THEM HERE AND HERE AND HERE.

THEY WERE ON THEIR WAY TO LONG METUIL TO LOOK FOR THE TWO JAPANESE WHO WERE KILLED THERE.

Narrator: THE RITUAL WAS HEADHUNTING, AND THE DAYAKS TOOK THE HEADS OF NEARLY EVERY JAPANESE SOLDIER THEY KILLED.

[LABAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] WE BROUGHT THE HEADS AND DISTRIBUTED THEM TO EVERY VILLAGE.

[BARU SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] AFTER THE HEADS HAD BEEN TAKEN, THE VILLAGES WERE VERY PEACEFUL.

Narrator: THE DAYAKS WERE THRILLED TO HAVE RESUMED THEIR LONG-LOST CUSTOM.

HEADHUNTING HAD NOT BEEN PRACTICED IN BORNEO FOR YEARS BECAUSE THE ISLAND'S COLONIAL RULERS, THE BRITISH AND THE DUTCH, HAD OUTLAWED IT AT THE TURN OF THE CENTURY.

BUT THE BANNING HAD NOT STOPPED MANY DAYAKS FROM MISSING THE PRACTICE, WHICH HAD BEEN AN INTRINSIC PART OF THEIR CULTURE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.

Heimann: THE PEOPLE WHO HADN'T BECOME CHRISTIAN HAD A BIG HOLE IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR RELIGION.

IT WAS LIKE HAVING THE MASS WITHOUT THE WINE OR THE BREAD.

THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE CENTRAL...RITE.

AND IT DIDN'T HAVE THE EXCITEMENT-- THE THRILL, THE COURAGE, THE BLOOD-- THAT HAD BEEN PART OF HEADHUNTING.

Narrator: THE HEADHUNTING WENT HAND-IN-HAND WITH SPECIAL CEREMONIES IN THE LONGHOUSES AND HAD MORE TO DO WITH RITUAL THAN WAR.

STILL HIDDEN DEEP IN THE JUNGLE AND UNAWARE OF THE RECENT KILLINGS, DAN, PHIL, EDDY AND JIM WERE ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE THE CELEBRATIONS FIRSTHAND.

Illerich: WE WERE DOWN TO NO FIREWOOD AND NO MACHETES TO CUT FIREWOOD WITH, AND ALL WE HAD WAS RAW RICE, AND WE THOUGHT WE WERE IN BAD SHAPE.

AND THEN THEY CAME AND GOT US AND THEY BROUGHT US BACK, TOOK US BACK TO PENERAGON LAGAN'S PLACE, LONGHOUSE, AND THAT'S WHERE WE WALKED INTO SMOKING HEADS OVER THE FIRE.

Narrator: THE YOUNG AMERICANS HAD BEEN BROUGHT IN TO WITNESS A RARE HEADHUNTING FEAST.

[GONGS RINGING] Illerich: THERE WAS--[SIGHS]-- INSISTENT RINGING OF GONGS.

THAT WAS THEIR MUSIC, THE DIFFERENT TONES OF BRASS GONGS, AND THEY WERE-- THEY BEAT OUT RHYTHM.

[LABAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] YES, WE WANTED TO CELEBRATE, TO CELEBRATE FOR WINNING THE WAR.

Narrator: THE JAPANESE HEADS WERE WASHED AND DRIED BEFORE BEING SMOKED OVER THE LONGHOUSE FIRE.

ACCORDING TO DAYAK BELIEFS, THESE WERE PROTECTIVE MEASURES TO ENSURE THAT NO MISFORTUNE CAME TO THE LONGHOUSE.

IF THE AIRMEN NEEDED ANY PROOF OF HOW FAR THEY WERE FROM HOME, THIS WAS IT.

Illerich: VERY HAPPY THAT IT WASN'T OUR HEADS HANGING THERE SMOKING.

THAT'S THEIR WAY OF LIFE.

I WAS A GUEST IN THEIR HOUSE. I WASN'T GONNA CRITICIZE WHAT THEY WERE DOING.

THAT WAS MY FEELING.

MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE FELT BAD ABOUT IT, BUT I DIDN'T.

I KNEW THAT THAT COULD HAVE BEEN MY HEAD IN A SACK GOING DOWN THE RIVER IF IT HAD BEEN REVERSED.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] THE AMERICANS WERE VERY HAPPY WHEN WE KILLED THE JAPANESE BECAUSE NOW THEY KNEW THEY WERE SAFE.

Narrator: WITH THE JAPANESE NO LONGER AN IMMEDIATE THREAT, THE AIRMEN WERE MOVED BACK TO THE VILLAGE OF LONG BERANG.

THERE, MAKAHANAP GAVE THEM NEWS ABOUT THE REST OF THEIR CREW.

THREE OTHERS HAD SURVIVED THE CRASH.

TOM CAPIN, JOHN NELSON, AND FRANNY HARRINGTON HAD BEEN FOUND BY OTHER DAYAKS IN A NEIGHBORING DISTRICT.

Illerich: THE LONGER WE WERE DEALING WITH MAKAHANAP AND THE LONGER WE WERE DEALING WITH THE DAYAKS, WE BEGAN TO REALIZE THAT THEY WERE ON OUR SIDE, THEY WERE-- AS WELL AS THEY COULD, THEY WERE GONNA PROTECT US.

Narrator: BUT THERE WAS ONLY SO MUCH THE DAYAKS COULD DO.

AFTER TWO MONTHS IN THE JUNGLE, THE AMERICANS WERE MALNOURISHED, SUFFERING FROM TROPICAL DISEASES, AND IN NEED OF MEDICAL ATTENTION.

THEY WERE HAPPY TO BE ALIVE, BUT STARTING TO LOSE HOPE OF EVER BEING RESCUED.

LITTLE DID THEY KNOW, HELP FROM THE OUTSIDE WOULD SOON BE ON ITS WAY.

ALL ACROSS SOUTHEAST ASIA, THE ALLIES WERE RECAPTURING TERRITORIES FROM THE JAPANESE.

BORNEO WAS A PRIMARY OBJECTIVE FOR THE BRITISH.

A THIRD OF THE ISLAND HAD BEEN CONTROLLED BY BRITAIN BEFORE THE WAR, AND THE UNITED KINGDOM WANTED IT BACK.

IN ADDITION TO A LARGE SEABORNE INVASION, THEY WERE PLANNING TO ESTABLISH A DAYAK GUERILLA ARMY THAT COULD AMBUSH THE JAPANESE FROM THE ISLAND'S INTERIOR.

BUT TO ORGANIZE THIS UNUSUAL FORCE, THEY NEEDED SOMEONE WITH LOCAL KNOWLEDGE.

THEY SELECTED AN ECCENTRIC, SELF-TAUGHT ANTHROPOLOGIST WHO HAD LED AN EXPEDITION TO BORNEO IN 1932.

HIS NAME WAS TOM HARRISSON.

HARRISON HAD FEW MILITARY QUALIFICATIONS, BUT HIS UNDERSTANDING OF THE DAYAKS MORE THAN MADE UP FOR HIS LACK OF COMBAT SKILLS.

Cranbrook: HE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE PEOPLE.

HE FOUND THEM VERY CONGENIAL, WHICH THEY ARE.

THEY'RE SO COURTEOUS, THEY'RE SO POLITE.

THEY ARE VERY FRIENDLY, AND I THINK HE HAD A GOOD TIME AS A YOUNG MAN THERE.

SO I THINK THAT WAS WHY-- HOW HIS ENTHUSIASM HAD ARISEN, AND THEN HE WAS ONE OF THE VERY FEW PEOPLE AVAILABLE WHO SEEMED TO HAVE SOME KIND OF EXPERTISE ON THE INTERIOR OF BORNEO.

Narrator: NOT ONLY DID HE HAVE EXPERIENCE LIVING WITH THE DAYAKS, HE HAD EXPERIENCE ACTING LIKE THEM.

HE HAD MARKED HIMSELF WITH TRIBAL TATTOOS AND BELIEVED THE ONLY WAY TO TRULY UNDERSTAND LOCAL PEOPLE WAS TO IMMERSE ONESELF IN THEIR CULTURE COMPLETELY.

WHEN THE BRITISH APPROACHED HARRISSON ABOUT RETURNING TO BORNEO, HE JUMPED AT THE OPPORTUNITY.

Cranbrook: HE WANTED TO ANTHROPOLOGISE, HE WANTED TO UNDERSTAND HOW THEIR SOCIETY WORKED, AND THERE ARE A LOT OF ANTHROPOLOGISTS WHO THINK YOU CAN DO THIS BY GETTING CLOSE TO THEM.

I'M SURE THE DAREDEVILNESS WAS AN ASPECT OF HIS CHARACTER THAT THEY LIKED.

READY FOR ANYTHING, YES.

Narrator: IN JUNE OF 1944, HARRISSON WAS SENT TO AUSTRALIA ON LOAN TO A SPECIAL UNIT KNOWN AS Z FORCE.

THE ANTHROPOLOGIST-TURNED-MAJOR WAS TO LEAD A GROUP OF COMMANDOES INTO THE INTERIOR TO SET UP GUERRILLA OPERATIONS.

HE WAS ALSO CHARGED WITH RESCUING ANY ALLIED AIRMEN HE CAME ACROSS IN THE JUNGLE.

Heimann: HE KNEW THERE WERE AMERICANS BEFORE THEY--BEFORE HE CAME IN, AND HE WAS UNDER INSTRUCTIONS TO DO HIS BEST TO FIND THEM AND TO GET THEM BACK OUT AGAIN.

Narrator: HARRISSON'S TEAM INCLUDED A YOUNG SERGEANT NAMED JACK TREDREA.

Tredrea: EACH OF US HAD A SPECIALIST PART IN THE TEAM.

I WAS THE TEAM MEDIC.

WE HAD OUR RADIO MAN, WE HAD OUR ARMAMENTS MAN, AND EACH ONE OF US HAD TO BE ABLE TO DO THE OTHERS' WORK AS WELL.

Narrator: THE OFFICIAL PLAN WAS TO ENTER BORNEO FROM THE COAST AND TRAVEL UPRIVER.

BUT HARRISSON PROPOSED A RADICALLY DIFFERENT IDEA: PARACHUTE DIRECTLY INTO THE INTERIOR, WHERE THEIR PRESENCE WAS LESS LIKELY TO GET BACK TO THE JAPANESE.

DURING HIS 1932 EXPEDITION, HARRISSON HAD HEARD RUMORS OF A FERTILE PLATEAU IN THE CENTER OF THE ISLAND.

Man, as Harrisson: 'WE HAD GONE A GOOD WAY INLAND, 'BUT MUCH FURTHER INLAND WE SAW GREAT MOUNTAIN RANGES, AND WE HEARD THAT BEHIND THEM LAY A SORT OF SHANGRI-LA.'

Narrator: NOW HARRISSON WOULD NEED TO FIND THIS PLATEAU AND SEE IF IT WAS SUITABLE AS A DROP ZONE.

IN EARLY 1945, HARRISSON PERSUADED HIS MILITARY BOSSES TO SEND HIM ON A RECONNAISSANCE TRIP FROM HIS BASE IN INDONESIA.

FLYING OVER THE ISLAND'S JUNGLE INTERIOR, HE COULD SEE NOTHING BUT THE BROCCOLI-LIKE CANOPY STRETCHING TO THE HORIZON.

BUT THEN, AS THE AIRCRAFT HEADED HOME, HARRISSON SPOTTED A CLEARING.

THE SPOT WAS MORE THAN 50 MILES FROM THE LUN DAYEH TRIBAL REGION, WHERE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES HAD ONCE VENTURED AND WHERE THE AIRMEN NOW SHELTERED.

IT WAS ALSO FAR MORE ISOLATED, AND WHEN HARRISSON RETURNED TO THE SITE IN MID-MARCH 1945, THE LOCAL KELABIT PEOPLE WERE TERRIFIED OF THE LOW-FLYING PLANE.

[MAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] ON THE FIRST DAY, THE PLANE CAME CIRCLING OVERHEAD, AND WE WERE REALLY SCARED, AND WE WERE THINKING, 'WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THIS?'

THEN THE PLANE WENT AWAY.

Narrator: A FEW DAYS LATER, THE AIRCRAFT RETURNED, THIS TIME WITH HARRISSON'S COMMANDOES ON BOARD.

Tredrea: BEFORE WE GOT ON THE PLANE TO DO OUR JUMP, TOM HARRISSON, OUR PARTY LEADER, OPENED UP A TIN AND HANDED US ALL A TABLET AND HE SAID, 'THAT'S THE OLD PILL.

'IT'S CYANIDE.

IF YOU'RE IN TROUBLE, BITE IT AND THAT'LL BE IT.'

THE NEXT DAY, 4 PLANES CAME, CIRCLING, CIRCLING.

THEN 8 MEN CAME DOWN.

THEY WERE PARACHUTING DOWN, AND WE LOOKED UP AT THEM AND THEY WERE JUST THIS BIG.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] THEY PARACHUTED OVER THERE.

THE PLANE WAS CIRCLING OVERHEAD, AND THEN THEY LANDED OVER THERE.

WHEN THEY REACHED THE GROUND, THERE WAS A SIGNAL AND THEN SMOKE.

Narrator: WITHIN MINUTES, HARRISSON WAS MET BY A PARTY OF KELABITS, WHO LED HIM AND HIS MEN THROUGH THE FIELDS TO THE LONGHOUSE.

Man, as Harrisson: 'THINGS BECAME FEARFULLY CONFUSED.

THE MAIN OVERALL REACTION WAS BEWILDERMENT, AMAZEMENT, COUPLED WITH DREADFUL EFFORTS TO ASK QUESTIONS FROM BOTH SIDES.

THE FIRST THINGS THE KELABITS WANTED TO KNOW WERE WERE WE HUMANS, AND HOW DID WE GET OUT OF THE AIRPLANE.

Narrator: HARRISSON'S BIOGRAPHER, JUDITH HEIMANN, IS ONE OF THE FEW PEOPLE ABLE TO READ THE SPIDERY SCRAWL OF HIS WARTIME DIARY.

SO THIS IS THE FIRST PAGE OF THE DIARY AFTER TOM LANDED IN BARIO.

THEY SPEND ALL DAY LOOKING, SEARCHING FOR STORE-PEDOES, WHICH WERE THE WAYS IN WHICH THEY PARACHUTED IN SUPPLIES AND THEN IT ENDS WITH 'BORAK!'

Narrator: BORAK WAS THE LOCAL RICE WINE, AND HARRISSON KNEW FROM HIS PREVIOUS EXPEDITION THAT IMBIBING WAS A SURE-FIRE WAY TO FIT IN WITH THE LOCALS.

[LAUGHING] BUT THERE WAS ALSO WORK TO BE DONE, AND BY THE NEXT MORNING, HE HAD SENT JACK TREDREA OUT TO DISTRIBUTE MEDICINE TO THE NEARBY TRIBES.

Tredrea: HE DREW A BIG CIRCLE ON MY MAP, AND HE SAID, 'I WANT YOU TO GO TO EVERY ONE OF THOSE KAMPONGS, FIND OUT WHATEVER INFORMATION YOU CAN, TREAT EVERYONE YOU CAN.'

Narrator: THE MEDICAL ATTENTION WAS TO SHOW THE DAYAKS THAT HARRISSON'S COMMANDOES WERE THERE TO HELP, NOT HURT.

Tredrea: 100% OF THE POPULATION HAD MALARIA, EITHER AMOEBIC OR BACILLARY DYSENTERY.

THEY WERE IN A BAD WAY.

Narrator: BACK IN LONG BERANG, IT DIDN'T TAKE LONG FOR NEWS OF THE COMMANDOES' ARRIVAL TO REACH THE DOWNED AIRMEN.

Illerich: WE WERE SITTING IN THAT LONGHOUSE, YOU KNOW, BORED BECAUSE THERE'S NOTHING TO DO, AND AT THE OTHER END OF THE LONGHOUSE, A BIG COMMOTION STARTED.

ONE OF THE DAYAKS HAD COME IN FROM THE WEST, AND THESE DAYAKS WERE SITTING AROUND THE FIREPLACE-- IT WAS DAY TIME, NOT FIRING UP OR--AND THEY WERE DRAWING PICTURES ON THE FLOOR.

THEY DREW A PARACHUTE AND SAT THE MAN ON TOP OF IT.

WELL, WE THOUGHT, 'WE GOT ANOTHER CREW.'

MAKAHANAP TOOK OFF FOR THAT AREA TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING-- IF ANOTHER CREW, HE WAS GONNA BRING IT IN-- AND THAT'S WHEN HE FOUND OUT THAT HARRISSON WAS THERE.

Narrator: A FEW DAYS LATER, MAKAHANAP BROUGHT THE AIRMEN A LETTER FROM HARRISSON.

THE AMERICANS QUICKLY REALIZED FROM HIS ECCENTRIC STYLE THAT THEY WEREN'T DEALING WITH AN ORDINARY OFFICER.

Man, as Harrisson: 'MY DEAR FELLOW, 'AS AN ENGLISHMAN, I HAD BETTER START LIKE THIS.

'I HAVE BROUGHT IN A PARTY OF 8, NOT ONLY TO BUGGER UP THE JAPS 'BUT ALSO, SPECIFICALLY, TO LOOK FOR LOST WHITES AND HELP THEM TO GET OUT IN ANY WAY WE CAN.'

Illerich: HE ASKED FOR THE SENIOR OFFICER AND ANY RADIO PERSONNEL TO COME AND VISIT WITH HIM.

SO WE WENT OFF TO SEE HARRISSON.

Narrator: AFTER NEARLY 5 MONTHS WAITING FOR RESCUE, DAN ILLERICH, PHIL CORRIN, AND TOM CAPIN SET OUT FOR HARRISSON'S BASE.

IT TOOK THEM MORE THAN A WEEK TO GET THERE.

WHEN THEY FINALLY ARRIVED ON APRIL 21, HARRISSON WASTED LITTLE TIME ON GREETINGS AND IMMEDIATELY PUT DAN TO WORK WITH AUSTRALIAN RADIO OPERATOR BOB LONG.

Long: THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPH IS ONE OF ME, TAKEN IN 1941.

DAN--DAN WAS EASY TO WORK WITH.

HE WAS--HE WAS QUITE GOOD AT THE FIGURING THE CODE PART OF IT.

HE WAS SLOW ON HIS MORSE.

YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU SIT AROUND IN A LONGHOUSE FOR 4 MONTHS DOING NOTHING, AND A MAN OFFERS YOU A CHANCE TO PRACTICE YOUR TRADE, I'M NOT GOING TO TURN HIM DOWN.

I JUST THOUGHT THAT IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE ABLE TO DO SOMETHING, TO KEEP ME BUSY AND HELP OUT UNTIL THEY COULD GET US OUT.

Narrator: WITH RADIO COMMUNICATIONS UP AND RUNNING, HARRISSON SIGNALED TO THE U.S. ARMY THAT SOME OF THEIR MISSING AIRMEN HAD BEEN LOCATED IN THE JUNGLES OF BORNEO.

MEANWHILE, HIS OPERATIVES BEGAN TRAINING THE LOCAL TRIBES IN THE ART OF GUERRILLA WARFARE.

THEY USED BASIC MALAY TO COMMUNICATE.

Tredrea: I WORKED WITH IBANS.

OTHERS WORKED WITH KAYANS, KENYAHS, MURUTS.

THERE'S SO MANY TRIBES OVER THERE, AND THEY ALL HAD THEIR OWN TERRITORIES.

BUT WE TOOK WHOEVER VOLUNTEERED.

Narrator: HARRISSON QUICKLY SETTLED BACK INTO THE LOCAL CULTURE, GOING BAREFOOT AND WEARING TRADITIONAL CLOTHING.

HE ALSO IGNORED OFFICIAL ORDERS TO WAIT FOR THE MAIN INVASION OF BORNEO, ORDERING HIS GUERRILLAS TO BEGIN ATTACKING THE JAPANESE.

Man, as Harrisson: 'WE COULDN'T AFFORD TO KEEP OUR ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORTERS 'KICKING THEIR HEELS FOR MONTHS.

'LUCKILY, WE WERE ABLE TO COMBINE BUSINESS WITH PLEASURE, SO TO SPEAK.

'WITHIN A COUPLE OF MONTHS, OUR AMBUSHES HAD BAGGED 3 COMPLETE PATROLS; 'NOT A LOT, BUT IT MADE THE WHOLE INTERIOR FEEL THAT NOW AT LAST THEY WERE FIGHTING.'

Tredrea: HE WAS A BRILLIANT ORGANIZER.

HE LET US FIGHT OUR WAR THE WAY WE WANTED TO.

Narrator: RATHER THAN IMPOSING BRITISH TECHNIQUES ON HIS DAYAK COMBATANTS, HARRISSON ENCOURAGED THEM TO RELY ON THEIR SPECIALIZED JUNGLE SKILLS.

HE CONVINCED THE MEN TO USE ONE OF THEIR MOST EFFECTIVE HUNTING WEAPONS-- THE BLOWPIPE-- AGAINST THE JAPANESE.

Long: THESE TWO NATIVES AND I WERE LAYING IN WAIT, AND ONE OF THEM SAID TO ME, 'WITH YOUR SENAPANG, TUAN'-- THAT MEANS RIFLE-- 'YOU CAN SHOOT SOMEBODY 'AND THEY WON'T NECESSARILY DIE.

'BUT ONE OF MY POISONED DARTS, EVEN IF IT HITS THEM ONLY IN THE LITTLE FINGER, THEY'RE DEAD.'

YOU COULD BE 5 YARDS INSIDE THE JUNGLE AWAY FROM A JUNGLE TRACK, AND THEY WOULD NOT KNOW YOU WERE THERE, THE JUNGLE WAS SO DENSE.

AND ALL THAT'D POKE OUT WOULD BE THAT END.

RIGHT. YEP.

YOU READY, JACK? THERE YOU ARE.

Narrator: HARRISSON HAD NO QUALMS ABOUT USING POISON ON THE JAPANESE.

HIS THOUGHTS--WRITTEN AFTER THE WAR--EVOKE HIS CONTEMPT FOR HIS ENEMY AND HIS DISDAIN FOR AUTHORITY.

Man, as Harrisson: 'THE JAPS COULD NEVER COPE WITH BLOW-PIPES, 'AND THE MERE SUSPICION THAT THERE WERE BLOWPIPERS AROUND 'DID MORE TO THEM THAN A DOZEN MACHINE GUNS.

'I DON'T KNOW IF WE WERE BREAKING ANY OF THE RULES OF WAR.

FRANKLY, WE DIDN'T CARE.'

Long: I THINK HIS GROUPING'S PRETTY GOOD.

Narrator: HARRISSON THE ANTHROPOLOGIST EMBRACED THE DAYAKS' CULTURE, BUT TWISTED THEIR TRADITIONS TO SUIT HIS PURPOSE.

IT WASN'T LONG BEFORE HE REALIZED, LIKE MAKAHANAP HAD A FEW MONTHS EARLIER, THAT HE COULD UNITE THE TRIBES AGAINST THE JAPANESE BY ENCOURAGING THEIR MOST SACRED RITUAL-- HEADHUNTING.

Heimann: THESE FOLKS KNOW HOW TO FIGHT, THEY KNOW HOW TO FIGHT SILENTLY WITH THEIR BLOWPIPES, AND THEY'RE DYING TO GET BACK TO HUNTING HEADS.

Narrator: HARRISSON MADE IT KNOWN THAT HEADHUNTING WAS NO LONGER OUTLAWED IF THE HEADS WERE JAPANESE.

HE EVEN SUPPORTED THE PRACTICE WITH A BOUNTY.

Tredrea: TOM HARRISSON OFFERED THE NATIVES 5 GUILDERS, DUTCH GUILDERS FOR ANY HEADS THEY BROUGHT IN.

Narrator: AS THE DAYAKS WENT OUT TO FIND JAPANESE HEADS, HARRISSON KEPT TRACK OF THEIR EXPLOITS: 'K'FOR KILLED, 'P'FOR PRISONER.

HIS COMMANDOES WERE EQUALLY CASUAL ABOUT THE HEADHUNTING.

Tredrea: PERSONALLY I DIDN'T CARE ONE WAY OR THE OTHER BECAUSE WE DIDN'T LIKE THE JAPANESE, THE JAPANESE DIDN'T LIKE US, AND WE KNEW IF THEY CAUGHT US, WE WOULDN'T ONLY BE KILLED, WE'D BE TORTURED PRETTY FIERCELY BEFOREHAND.

THE JAPS DID NOT HAVE A VERY GOOD REPUTATION.

THE NATIVES HATED THEM, AND SO IT MADE OUR JOB MUCH EASIER.

Man, as Harrisson: 'THOSE FIRST JAP HEADS THRILLED THE JUNGLE PEOPLE.

THE DIFFICULTY WAS TO CONTROL THE CHAPS FROM GOING TOO FAR.'

Narrator: ON MAY 1, 1945, THE COASTAL ATTACK ON BORNEO FINALLY ARRIVED.

11,000 AUSTRALIAN SOLDIERS LANDED AT TARAKAN-- A SMALL, BUT HIGHLY STRATEGIC ISLAND OFF THE NORTHEAST COAST.

WITHIN WEEKS, THE TROOPS HAD SECURED AN AIRFIELD.

THE ALLIES WERE NOW LESS THAN 150 MILES FROM BELAWIT, THE INTERIOR PLATEAU WHERE HARRISSON WAS BASED.

AT LONG LAST, THE AMERICANS WERE WITHIN REACH OF AIR SUPPORT, OR SO THEY THOUGHT.

Illerich: ORIGINALLY, HARRISSON WAS GOING TO TAKE US OUT BY BLACK CAT, CATALINAS, FLYING BOATS.

BUT THEY COULDN'T FIND ENOUGH WATER THAT WASN'T TOO CLOSE TO JAPANESE FORCES TO BE ABLE TO BRING THAT AIRPLANE IN, GET US LOADED ON, AND TAKE--AND LEAVE.

Narrator: HARRISSON KNEW THAT THE AUSTRALIANS HAD A SHORT-TAKE-OFF PLANE, THE AUSTER, THAT COULD REACH THE PLATEAU.

BUT TO LAND IT, HE NEEDED AN AIRSTRIP.

GALA RAUT WAS A BOY AT THE TIME, AND REMEMBERS HARRISSON'S UNUSUAL REQUIREMENTS.

[RAUT SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] HE HAD A MEETING WITH ALL OF THE ELDERS, AND HE ASKED THEM, 'CAN YOU GIVE ME LAND, BECAUSE WE NEED TO MAKE AN AIRSTRIP?'

SO THAT'S WHY THEY AGREED TO GIVE HIM THE LAND, AND THEN WE ALL STARTED TO DIG.

Narrator: BUT THE LAND WAS WATERLOGGED, AND HARRISSON QUICKLY REALIZED THAT BUILDING AN AIRSTRIP WOULD NOT BE AS SIMPLE AS CLEARING AWAY BRUSH.

[MAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] HE WAS WORRIED THAT AN AIRPLANE MIGHT GET STUCK IN THE MUD, SO HE ASKED US, 'WHAT CAN WE DO? WHAT CAN WE PUT ON IT?'

SO SOME OF THE OLDER PEOPLE SAID, 'WE CAN PUT BAMBOO ON THE AIRSTRIP.'

Narrator: NOW IN THEIR EIGHTIES, THESE ARE SOME OF THE DAYAKS WHO INGENIOUSLY TURNED BAMBOO TRUNKS INTO A MAKESHIFT RUNWAY.

THE TRUNKS WERE FIRST SPLIT LENGTHWISE, SO THEY COULD BE UNROLLED INTO FLAT RECTANGLES.

THEN THEY WERE LAID OUT ALONG THE PLAIN INTO DECKING 300 FEET LONG, SUPPOSEDLY THE LENGTH NEEDED FOR AN AUSTER TO TAKE OFF AND LAND.

Long: IT WAS SOMETHING THAT WE'D NEVER, EVER CONTEMPLATED OR SEEN OR THOUGHT OF BEFORE, BUT PROBABLY THE ONLY BAMBOO AIRSTRIP EVER BUILT IN THE WORLD, I SHOULD IMAGINE.

THE LONG STRIPS WERE PINNED TO THE GROUND WITH BAMBOO PEGS.

WITH MORE THAN 1,000 VOLUNTEERS, THE PROJECT WAS COMPLETED IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS.

ONE OF HARRISSON'S COMMANDOES TOOK PHOTOS OF THE AIRSTRIP.

[MAN SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] I'M SO HAPPY WITH THIS.

I'M SURE THAT IT'S VERY STRONG.

I'M SURE THAT IT WOULD SUPPORT THE WHEELS OF AN AIRPLANE.

[SPEAKING NATIVE LANGUAGE] Narrator: WITH THE RUNWAY FINISHED, HARRISSON NEEDED SOMEONE BRAVE ENOUGH TO LAND ON IT.

HE RADIOED MILITARY COMMAND IN TARAKAN, AND ON JUNE 7, 1945, TWO AUSTRALIAN PILOTS FLEW IN.

THE AMERICAN L-3 GRASSHOPPER IS VERY SIMILAR TO THE TINY AUSTER.

DAN HAS COME TO SEE ONE AT HIS LOCAL FLYING CLUB IN HOUSTON.

Illerich: THEY FLEW TWO OF THEM IN.

AND THEY LANDED ALL RIGHT, BECAUSE YOU CAN TAKE A SMALL AIRPLANE AND WHEN YOU BRING IT IN FOR AN APPROACH TO LANDING, IT WILL LAND IN A-- YOU CAN LAND IT IN A VERY SHORT DISTANCE.

Narrator: LANDING WAS ONE THING, BUT TAKING OFF AGAIN WAS ANOTHER.

TYPICALLY RECKLESS, HARRISSON HIMSELF VOLUNTEERED FOR THE FIRST TEST RUN.

THEY WENT TO THE END OF THE RUNWAY AND MADE THEIR TAKEOFF RUN, AND AT THAT ALTITUDE, THEY JUST DIDN'T HAVE AIRSPEED WHEN THEY RAN OUT OF RUNWAY AND IT GOT OFF INTO THE MUD WITH--FROM THE RICE PADDY.

Narrator: THE AUSTER FLIPPED OVER.

THE MEN WERE UNHARMED, BUT THE PLANE WAS DAMAGED.

SO THE DAYAKS USED MORE BAMBOO TO EXTEND THE RUNWAY, AND UNDER AUSTRALIAN SUPERVISION, TO PATCH THE BROKEN AUSTER BACK TOGETHER.

ON JUNE 10, THE AIRCRAFT TOOK OFF SUCCESSFULLY, THIS TIME WITH THE FIRST OF THE AMERICAN AIRMEN ON BOARD.

WHEN IT TOUCHED DOWN IN TARAKAN, THE FUSELAGE BROKE IN TWO, BUT BOTH PILOT AND PASSENGER WERE FINE.

TOM HARRISSON'S JUNGLE BASE NOW HAD ITS VERY OWN WORKING AIRPORT.

THE MAJOR DECORATED THE STRIP WITH AN ARRAY OF NATIONAL FLAGS... AND A TOKEN JAPANESE HEAD.

WHEN ONE MAN, WHO HAD BEEN TORTURED BY THE JAPANESE AND HAD SCARS ALL OVER HIS LEGS, CAME UP, BRINGING HIM THE HEAD OF THE JAPANESE POLICE CHIEF OF LAWAS, HE ACCEPTED THE HEAD MOST GRATEFULLY AND HAD IT FLOWN FROM A FLAGPOLE.

Narrator: OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS, THE REMAINING AIRMEN WERE FLOWN OUT ONE AT A TIME FROM THE BAMBOO AIRSTRIP.

BUT ONE OF THE AMERICANS WASN'T QUITE READY TO LEAVE.

I VOLUNTEERED TO STAY AS LONG AS POSSIBLE AND IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO WORK WITH BOB, AND I SAID, 'OK, I'LL BE THE LAST ONE OUT 'AND THAT'LL GIVE US A DAY OR TWO MORE THAT I CAN HELP WITH THE SIGNALS OPERATION.'

ON JUNE 29, 7 MONTHS AFTER HIS CRASH LANDING, DAN WAS FINALLY FLOWN OUT OF BORNEO.

LESS THAN TWO MONTHS LATER, A CONFLICT FOUGHT WITH BLOWPIPES AND MACHETES WAS DRAMATICALLY HALTED BY THE ATOMIC BOMB AND THE END OF THE WAR.

TOM HARRISSON WOULD LEAVE BORNEO WITHIN THE YEAR.

DURING HIS TIME THERE, MORE THAN 1,000 JAPANESE SOLDIERS MET THEIR END.

IT WAS A SMALL BUT IMPORTANT ALLIED VICTORY THAT WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE BRAVERY AND SKILL OF HIS COMMITTED TRIBAL ARMY.

Man, as Harrisson: 'I HOPE THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT WILL NEVER FORGET THAT IN BORNEO, 'IT WAS THE HILL TRIBES-- THE SO-CALLED BACKWARD AND UNCIVILIZED PEOPLES-- WHO PROVED THE TRUEST AND THE BRAVEST CITIZENS.'

Narrator: MANY OF THE DAYAKS RECEIVED HONORS AFTER THE WAR, BUT MAKAHANAP DIED POOR AND FORGOTTEN BY ALL BUT THE AIRMEN AND THE PEOPLE OF HIS DISTRICT.

THE AMERICANS WERE FLOWN HOME TO THE UNITED STATES, KEEPERS OF AN EXTRAORDINARY STORY FEW WOULD BELIEVE.

DAN ILLERICH, THE ONLY ONE OF THEM STILL ALIVE TODAY, HAS NEVER FORGOTTEN WHAT THE DAYAKS DID FOR HIM AND HIS CREW.

Illerich: WE PARACHUTED INTO THEIR COMMUNITY IN 1944, AND THEY WERE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO TAKE US IN, PROTECT US, AND PREVENT OUR CAPTURES.

THESE GUYS KNEW THAT THEY WERE RUNNING A BIG RISK WHEN THEY STARTED OPERATIONS AGAINST THE JAPANESE, AND I CERTAINLY THINK THEY'RE HEROES OR I WOULDN'T BE STANDING HERE TALKING TO YOU.

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