The National Museum of the US Air Force and a pair of monoculars with a backstory will be featured on the “Mysteries at the Museum” episode set to air at 9 p.m. Friday, April 17 on the Travel Channel.
The episode “Opera Riot, Golfer Behind Enemy Lines, The Great Mail Train Robbery” includes monoculars used by Lieutenant Colonel Iceal E. “Gene” Hambleton on display at the museum at 1100 Spaatz St.
He used the device during his daring escape from behind enemy lines after being shot down over South Vietnam during the 1972 Easter Offensive.
It was one of the most challenging and largest rescues of the war. Hambleton was found after 11 and half days on the ground.
From a museum fact sheet about the mission called “Rescue of Bat 21“:
“Knowing Hambleton was an avid golfer, authorities gave him directional and distance information by naming specific holes at different golf courses. One forward air controller, Capt. Harold Icke, spent countless hours orbiting near Hambleton and communicating by radio throughout the ordeal.
After ‘playing’ nine holes and nearing collapse from hunger and exhaustion, Hambleton had moved to a location where U.S. Navy SEAL LT Tom Norris and South Vietnamese SEAL Petty Officer Nguyen Van Kiet safely recovered him.”