Always returns

Here’s a photograph from the November 16 1942 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a man who had returned from an ordeal at sea.

Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) was noteworthy for a number of things:

  • Before the First World War, he was a race car driver, competing in the first Indianapolis 500 race in 1911. He won a race in Sioux City in 1914 after tying the still-beating heart of a bat to his finger (apparently, this was a Swiss superstition that he learned from his mother).
  • When the United States entered the First World War in 1917, Rickenbacker became a pilot. He had 26 aerial victories in 1918, which was the highest total up to that point and made him a war hero. He was given a book deal and went on a speaking tour.
  • He helped design a car, the Rickenbacker, which made its appearance in 1922. It was unsuccessful, and his company went into receivership in 1924, leaving him on the hook for half a million dollars.
  • He bought the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1927, selling it in 1945.
  • He bought Eastern Air Lines in 1938, and was CEO of the company until 1959.
  • In 1941, he was severely injured in an air crash near Atlanta, requiring many months to heal.
  • In 1942, he was adrift at sea for 23 days after the plane he was in crashed. He had been on his way to deliver a message to General Douglas MacArthur; after he was rescued, he completed his assignment.

When he passed away in 1973, his eulogy was delivered by Jimmy Doolittle (previously mentioned in this blog here). He is not to be confused with Orville Redenbacher.

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