Paul Stewart was a young Army private from Ardmore, Oklahoma and a very recent graduate of parachute training program on the night of September 23, 1962, the date of the fatal mid-sea ditching of the Flying Tiger 923. He was one of the lucky 48 survivors of the 78 passengers and crew who went down with the aircraft that night.
Paul tells his own story best, so I will do my best to quote him:
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“Recently I found several items related to FT923.
“My Dad kept a small picture box, which went to my sister when he died and then to my niece when my sister passed. It was shared with me only a couple of months ago.
“The find that was a real shocker was a post card from the Celerina’s electrician, Marcus Janka, dated March 18, 1963. You know that I was in your unit at that time and had never seen the message.
“While on the ship (the Celerina), I stayed in his cabin and we would visit 1 to 2 hours a day until we docked in Antwerp, Belgium. When I left, I wrote my name and home address, and I never saw this card for more than 55 years. Marcus told me that on the night of the rescue, he operated the huge ”Search Light,” or “Spot Light,” that stayed on the raft for hours and hours. We could never thank that crew enough.”
[Editor’s Note: The postcard, which was mailed from New Orleans, is shown front and back. It reads, “Hallo Paul, We was in Calcutta and nowe in New Orleans. I hope you are well. In three months I am at home. /s/ Markus Janka, RoutgenStr. 30, Zurich 5, Schueiz”]Another item from hidden picture box is a copy of a telegram to Henry Stewart, his father, dated September 25, 1962, from a Major General J.C. Lambert, stating that his son had been rescued. That was the sum total of contacts from the Army. Paul says that the only other phone calls or contacts about FT923 came from the press.