SECRETS OF THE DEAD: Airmen And The Headhunters
Airs Wednesday, May 26, 2010 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, November 9, 2009
In 1944, as war raged across the globe, an incredible drama unfolded in the remote jungles of Borneo. A U.S. bomber was hit by Japanese anti-aircraft fire, and as the plane went down, the surviving crew ejected and parachuted into the wilderness. Pursued by Japanese soldiers, they were taken in and protected by members of the Dayak tribe—the so-called “wild men of Borneo,” who were infamous for their grisly custom of hunting and smoking enemy heads.
Months later, the airmen were found by an eccentric British Major, who arrived in the jungle to set up a guerilla army, and built a runway out of bamboo so rescue planes could pick up the stranded airmen. Harder to believe than a fictional Hollywood thriller, their true tale is one of courage, survival, and compassion from the most unlikely sources.
Based on the book of the same title by Judith Heimann and featuring exclusive testimonies from the last surviving airman, veterans and Dayak heroes, dramatic on-location recreations, archival film footage, and never-before-seen photographs, THIRTEEN’s "Secrets of the Dead" series pieces together a thrilling jungle adventure in “The Airmen And The Headhunters,” premiering nationally on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11, 2009. Actor Liev Schreiber ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine" and "Taking Woodstock") narrates.