Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A brush with death

"U.S. Marine Corps veteran Frederick 'Fritz' Payne" witnessed a great deal of death while flying his fighter plane "over the Pacific during World War II". "Although his plane took a beating during combat missions -- returning to base with numerous bullet holes — Payne said he only had one really close brush with death."

"It was when I got malaria," he said.

At high altitudes, pilots must wear oxygen masks; without the constant flow of oxygen they risk death. "When you get malaria, you naturally get sick," he said.

"When I got sick I vomited in my oxygen mask, and it cut off my oxygen."

"The next thing I knew, I was going around in circles," he said.

As the plane spiraled out of control, Payne lost consciousness.

"When I came to, I was at about 8,000 feet and the plane was going down," he said. Still groggy from the black-out, Payne managed to pull his plane from its downward plummet. The fighter pilot survived, but he remembers malaria as a deadly enemy.


Goolsby, Denise. "Ace fought enemy, malaria over the Pacific." The Desert Sun. 14 April 2010.

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