This one's for you, Julie!
Only a couple of weeks ago, you accused me of systematically supplying you with novels in which the protagonist inevitably dies. (I have to admit you have a point there. On the other hand, show some gratitude will you! After all, I introduced you to Remarque, didn't I? You should probably read "Arch of Triumph" once more, now that you're in Paris!)
Well, here's a story from real life. And, he's still alive!
Fred Hargesheimer, an American war pilot, was shot down by a Japanese fighter in the southwest Pacific on June 5, 1943, while flying his P38 on a reconnaissance mission. Here starts an incredible story, packed with war time action of course, but also a touching story of gratitude, passion and humanity.
Here's a news review from August 2006, reporting on Fred's return to the village that saved his life so many years ago. You can also see lots of pictures here.
This reminds me of another moving autobiographical war time story from Asia, the memoirs by Ernest Gordon, the former Presbyterian dean of the chapel at Princeton University. His book "Through the Valley of the Kwai" is his account of the 3 years he endured as a Japanese POW. (The second edition was renamed "Miracle on the River Kwai".) The film To End All Wars (2002) is based on Gordon's book.
Strange, how real life beats fiction - by miles!