Lt. William Diebold served in the Army's Air Transport Command in the China-Burma-India theater of World War II and never fired a weapon in battle. Like many men who flew the Hump, he never saw on-the-ground combat, but he fought bravely by saving lives. Flyers who crossed the eastern Himalayas to keep the allied armies in China supplied with food, fuel, and weapons against Japan—preventing it from concentrating its power in the Pacific—often flew in zero-visibility, sometimes crashing into mountains or falling from the sky from Japanese Zero attacks. Those pilots who survived, Bill Diebold rescued.
In Hell Is So Green, Diebold vividly describes the heat and stink of the jungle; the vermin, lice, and leeches; the towering mountains and roaring rivers. Rich with war slang, wisecracks, and old-fashioned phrases, his story reverberates with authenticity and represents the stories of many men that have never been told. After the author's early death, the manuscript was put away in an attic—until now. Here, from the shadows of that attic, comes a compelling story of courage under fire and heroism for the ages.
Lt. William Diebold wrote Hell Is So Green shortly after returning to America. An excerpt appeared in Cosmopolitan in 1946 and Coast Artillery Journal in 1947. He died in 1965.
Richard Matthews is a feature writer, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Hartford Courant, Historic Preservation, American Heritage, American Profile, Country Living, Vermont Life, Massachusetts Business and Economic Review, and many other publications. An infantryman in Vietnam from 1965 to 1966, he lives in Phillips, Maine.
A Military History Book Club selection
“Diebold clearly possessed a gift for storytelling, and he's got some good stories to tell. Through it all, Diebold is a man of optimism and good cheer, always eager to find the humor in situations that would defeat the less resilient. ... The story he tells gives testament to the fact that quite ordinary people are capable of doing the most extraordinary things.” —Portland Maine Press Herald
“An exciting tale.” —Daily Bulldog (Maine)
“Bill had more guts than any man I’ve ever met. . . . Aside from my parachute, I felt he was the best life insurance I had when I flew.”
—Don Downie, author of Flying the Hump
A rare, firsthand account of the rescue mission to aid the biggest air-supply of World War II