World Battlefronts: MEN AT WAR: Whew!

When he volunteered, Navy Lieut. Thomas Ladwig knew that flying a night fighter from a carrier was a hazardous job. But not even 25-year-old Airman Ladwig had bargained for the miraculous series of near-misses death flung at him last week. He remembered this much:

The carrier's catapult had gone haywire, had shoved him and his eight-ton aircraft overside—a 40-ft. plunge. The plane's belly tank had been rammed into the cockpit, flooding him with searing gasoline. He had been slammed tight against the cockpit hood, his only means of escape.

Somehow, deep under water, he and his aircraft parted company. He...

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