|Surviors of plane crash that claimed the life of Private Marian Gillis|
Marian C. Gillis could have been 100 years old today.
She was born on January 7, 1917 in New Jersey. She was an only child. Her father Linwood was a 49 year old newspaper publisher when she was born and her mother was 35.
Marian had her share of adventures in her young life. She was an amateur pilot and was living in Spain when the Spanish Civil War started.
Marian enlisted in the Womens Army Corp on April 10, 1943. She was a college graduate who had worked as a secretary and was assigned to be an aviation cadet.
By 1945 she was serving as a private in the WACs in Hollandia, Dutch New Guinea. Flights over the island had discovered a lost valley with a civilization that had nearly no contact with the outside world. On Sunday, May 13, 1945 Private Gillis and 23 others boarded a C-47 named the Gremlin Special to fly over the hidden valley and peer into a prehistoric past. During the flight the pilot left the cockpit to visit with those in the cabin. The less experienced co-pilot had never flown over the valley before and determined too late that the plane was flying too low. His attempt to climb failed and the plane crashed into the jungle. Private Gillis was among those killed in the crash. Three people in the plane survived and had to live with the Dani tribes for 47 days until they could be rescued. This amazing story was excellently told in the 2011 best seller Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff.
|Author Zuckoff at Gremlin Special crash site|
Her remains were returned to be buried at Jeffersons Barracks National Cemetery.
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