Lot 885

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(1890 - 1973) American aviator and World War I ace credited with 26 "kills", later president of Eastern Air Lines. Important multi-signed book, his account of survival at sea: "Seven Came Through" (Garden City: Doubleday, Doran & Co.), 1943. First edition, 118pp. 8vo., in original dust jacket. Slight wear at spine ends, else very fine. Rickenbacker's account of his desperate 21 days aboard a life raft in the Pacific following the ditching of his B-17. In 1985-86, a collector had the book signed by crew members and rescuers involved in the disaster. Those signing include: EDWARD V. RICKENBACKER, Pilot WILLIAM CHERRY, C0-Pilot JAMES WHITTAKER (tipped-in), Navigator JOHN DE ANGELIS (tipped in), Flight Engineer JOHN BARTEK, Radio Operator JAMES REYNOLDS, rescuer Navy Radioman LESTER BOUTTE, and rescuer PT boat QM WILLIAM WEPNER. Fine condition, a truly rare assemblage of names. In late 1942 Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Army Air Forces chief of staff General Henry H. 'Hap' Arnold asked the 52-year-old airline executive to travel to the Pacific theater to evaluate and report on the status of U.S. Army Air Forces combat units stationed there. On Oct. 20, 1942, they climbed aboard a B-17 in Hawaii bound for Canton Island, 1,800 miles to the south. Due to a faulty octant, the plane flew off course, ran out of fuel and ditched into the Pacific. There followed 21 days on a cramped lifeboat at sea, and the deaths of some of the crew. Rickenbacker, as senior officer, kept the men's spirits up while using his skills as a leader to improvise methods to ensure their survival.

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July 15, 2020 11:00 AM EDT
Chesapeake City, MD, US

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