Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman

Savage Harvest by Carl Hoffman

Author:Carl Hoffman
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 2013-03-10T16:00:00+00:00


November 1961


(MSC/OSC Brotherhood, Order of the Sacred Heart)

THE MORNING AFTER Simon and Leo arrived in Agats, Dutch officials began organizing a search-and-rescue effort in earnest. At nine a.m. on Sunday, November 19, the Dutch Resident of Merauke, F. R. J. Eibrink Jansen, telephoned P. J. Platteel, the governor of Netherlands New Guinea, with the news, as last reported by Leo and Simon: René Wassing and Michael Rockefeller were drifting at sea. This wasn’t just a couple of missionaries or tourists, but Michael Rockefeller. If that wasn’t bad enough, the very next day Joseph Luns, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, would address the UN General Assembly in New York to present his plan for the future of the Dutch colony.

Telexes flew at the highest levels of the government, between Interior Minister Theo Bot and the Dutch ambassadors to Australia and the United States. The US State Department telexed Nelson Rockefeller that his son was lost at sea.

On the island of Biak, three hundred miles to the north, the Dutch Royal Air Force kept a squadron of twelve Lockheed P-2 Neptunes. The plane was the first designed specifically for maritime patrol, reconnaissance, and antisubmarine warfare, and the squadron was stationed at Biak to patrol the waters of New Guinea to scout possible Indonesian incursions into the Dutch colony. Dutch colonial administrators in the outback, like van de Waal, might be living in wood huts with nothing but a radio, but the Indonesian military threat was taken seriously, and the squadron on Biak was modern and sophisticated. The Neptunes had a range of four thousand miles and radar so sensitive it could pick out a floating coconut.

Rudolf Idzerda commanded the squadron. At thirty-eight, the former fighter pilot had already survived two emergency bailouts by parachute—once when his Sea Fury was shot down by Japan during World War II, and once when his plane was tangled in a hurricane off the coast of Florida during training in the United States. He would go on to become a rear admiral. Late on the morning of November 19, the squadron got the call, and Idzerda’s Neptune was the first plane up, at 1:30 p.m.

Von Peij, waiting for Michael to come by Atsj and Amanamkai, heard the sound of an airplane circling out to sea around 4:00 p.m.

Farther down the coast, and also waiting for Michael, van Kessel heard and saw the airplanes too.

After three hours, Idzerda’s navigator picked up a radar contact, and Idzerda soon spotted the half-sunken, overturned catamaran, at 4:10 p.m. It had drifted sixteen miles southwest of where the boys had left it. René Wassing spotted the plane and couldn’t believe his luck; he thought the Neptune had simply stumbled upon him on a routine patrol. Idzerda opened the bomb bay doors and flew a hundred feet overhead. A crewman pushed an emergency raft out of the Neptune. It hit the water near Wassing and inflated.


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