The REST of the Story
Without the heroism of Jacqueline Briand, the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association might be a very different organization, or might not exist at all. She played a big role in the survival of 2nd Lt. Flamm D. Harper, now a retired lieutenant colonel, and the distinguished Chairman of the Board-Emeritus of the Sabre Pilots Association.
"No. 1 SNAFU", the story of how Dee Harper was shot down, evaded, and was rescued in Korea was told in the Fall 1996 issue of SabreJet Classics. That was the second time Dee was shot down behind enemy lines and evaded capture to return to his unit. In so doing, he became one of only two American pilots known to accomplish this feat.
Dee was downed for the first time on 15 July 1944, while flying a P-38J on a fighter-bomber mission near the town of Montmorillion, in Occupied France, almost 100 miles south of Paris. This story was recounted in the Spring 1999 issue of The Daedalus Flyer, a publication of the Order of Daedalians (The National Fraternity of Professional Military Pilots). While flying the element lead in a flight of four Lightnings lead by First Lieutenant Robin Olds, Dee's aircraft was either hit by flak or flew through the debris of a bomb dropped by another flight member. With his aircraft severely damaged and at very low altitude, Dee rode it down to a wheels-up landing in a farmer's field. He swears he had very little to do with the successful landing, and calls it "miraculous".
As Dee crawled out of the wrecked P-38, he spotted a French girl standing alongside the meadow, and she beckoned him to follow her. Bloody, battered, and bruised, he followed the young lady to her grandparents' home, nearby. The family fed him and tended to his injuries, sheltered him overnight, and provided him with civilian clothes. Then her father assisted Dee in evading German troops, and young Lieutenant Harper was shortly placed in the hands of British SAS (Special Air Service) troopers and the French Maqui (fierce underground fighters). After a series of adventures with those folks, Dee finally made it back to England on 6 August 1944 via a behind-the-lines pick-up by an RAF Lockheed Hudson.
But it all began with the fourteen year old French girl, who had the courage to assist the American fighter pilot, and saved him from almost certain capture by German troops. Her actions and those of her family and the other French citizens who helped Dee Harper placed them at great risk if they were discovered. The Germans were well-known for severely punishing French people who aided the Allies.
Dee didn't learn the name of the French girl until 1998, when they were placed in touch with each other by a French archaeologist who was working at the site of Dee's crash. This began an exchange of correspondence between Dee and his rescuer, Jacqueline Briand. In October 1999, Jacqueline, now 70 and a great-grandmother, and her husband visited Dee at his home in Las Vegas. It was their first visit to the USA, and Dee arranged a marvelous itinerary of sightseeing and partying for the Briands. The event was covered in grand fashion by the Las Vegas Review-Journal on 1 November 1999.
The F-86 Sabre Pilots Association sends its sincere thanks to Jacqueline Briand for her heroic actions, which helped Dee Harper survive to fight another day and to lead our great association in the last decade of the Twentieth Century.
No portion of this article may be used or reprinted without permission from the President of the F-86 Sabre Pilots Association or the editor of Sabre Jet Classics magazine.
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