70th Anniversary – Tom Harmon crashes over Suriname
April 10, 1943 – Former all-America tailback at the University of Michigan and Heisman Trophy winner, Tom Harmon (US Army Air Corps) was the only member of his crew to survive a crash over Suriname due to weather conditions.
More About Tom Harmon –
Twice during World War II he was reported missing in action. In April 1943 he crashed into the jungles of Dutch Guiana, which is now Suriname, and marched alone through swamps and rain forests four days before he was rescued by natives.
Later that year, he bailed out of his P-38 fighter plane over China when it was shot down in an air fight. When he reached the ground, there were bullet holes in his parachute, and he pretended he was dead to discourage the enemy pilots from further attacks. He was smuggled back through Japanese-held territory to an American base by friendly Chinese bands.
When Harmon married Elyse Knox, an actress, on Aug. 26, 1944, the bride used the white silk and white cords from his parachute in her wedding gown.
After the war, Harmon received a $7,000 tax bill for earnings on the movie he had made in 1941. He accepted a $20,000-a-year offer from the Los Angeles Rams football team and performed for them through two unimpressive seasons. Wartime leg injuries robbed him of his former speed and power.
After ending his playing career, Harmon spent the rest of his life as a sports broadcaster in radio and television, based mainly in Los Angeles. In 1974, he joined the Hughes Television Network as a sports director, hired to coordinate sports programming and to serve as a commentator at major golf tournaments.
”Sports broadcasting was the only job I ever wanted,” he said. ”It was the thing I loved because it put me among people I knew and wanted to be with.”
The Michigan sports blog MGOBLOG also credits Harmon as the man who “made NCIS possible by fathering son, Mark.”