The plane the crew had nicknamed the "Bobcat", arrived in the CIB (China, India, Burma) theatre of war in September of 1944. Assigned to the 373rd Squadron, 308th Heavy Bomb Group operating out of Luliang China, the crew's orders were to find and destroy enemy shipping in the South China Sea using a new, top secret air to surface radar system. The men were well seasoned, having flown their aircraft half way around the world, from New York to their base of operations in southern China. They had since then flown over 120 combat hours on bombing missions over ground and naval targets.
On December 31, a Japanese naval convoy was sighted by allied submarines operating in the Gulf of Tonkin. That evening four aircraft, including the Bobcat, took off at half hour intervals on a mission to attack the convoy. According to Air Force post combat reports, the last radio message from the Bobcat was sent in the early morning hours of January 1, 1945.
One of the crew of eleven men was co-pilot Frank D. Padgett. He was 21 years old, from Vincennes, Indiana. Just a little over a year before, he had been in his senior year at Harvard College, studying for a law degree. Now here he was, a parachute strapped to his chest, in a face-up, flat spin, staring at the sky as he rushed towards the earth at 150 mph. His life would never be the same.
He was about to embark on a journey that would take him through a country occupied by the Japanese and engulfed in war. The challenges he faced were beyond anything he had ever dreamed possible and his courage, intelligence and good luck would be his only tools to help him through this incredible journey.