Posted by Ted Roelofs The Grand Rapids Press May 26, 2008 00:00AM
Categories: Top Photos
War is often the story of things gone wrong: A missed drop zone. A jammed rifle. A shift in wind or weather.
These things happen. And people die.
But the dice sometimes tumble into place in ways that defy the odds. In February 1945, 2,147 starving captives in a Philippine prison camp were rescued on the day of their execution, perhaps minutes before their death. Those spared included a Grand Rapids missionary family of five.
The raid came off with such stop-watch perfection that Hollywood would have thrown back the script: Not one prisoner died. In a brief, fierce battle, Allied forces overcame about 250 Japanese soldiers at the Los Banos camp. Not one American soldier died.
"It's God's plan, let's put it that way, that we be liberated," said David DeVries, 83, who walked out of the compound at age 20 weighing 92 pounds, along with his parents, sister and brother.
DeVries looked up that morning to see a white string of paratroopers, including 19-year-old Sgt. Frank Krhovsky, swing out of a blue sky just outside the camp.
"This raid was done to perfection," Krhovsky recalled. "There was not one thing that went wrong."
In the pandemonium of the rescue, Krhovsky climbed aboard one of 54 amphibious trucks used to ferry the prisoners to safety. He struck up a conversation with a 15-year-old boy who happened to sit next to him up front. Henry DeVries Jr., David's brother, told the paratrooper where his family was from: Grand Rapids. As a former resident of nearby Ionia, Krhovsky didn't have to ask where that was.
"What are the odds?" he asked.
LINK to the story at MLIVE.