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Rudolph Augarten; World War II Fighter Pilot

Rudolph “Rudy” Augarten, 78, an American fighter pilot during World War II who went on to aid Israel’s neophyte air force. Augarten parachuted into Normandy in 1944 when the Germans shot down his P-47 Thunderbolt fighter plane. After a French farm family hid him for three weeks, he tried walking back to Allied lines, but he was captured and imprisoned by the Nazis. He and a British soldier escaped through their farmhouse prison’s attic. Augarten returned to his U.S. Army Air Corps unit and flew 92 more missions, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1948, he flew for Israel’s 101 Squadron, shooting down three Egyptian planes. Augarten, who studied at Harvard, became a real estate businessman in Seal Beach. When he returned to France in 1994 for the 50th anniversary of D-day, the veteran combat pilot was reunited with the French family who had taken him in half a century earlier. On Monday in Seal Beach of leukemia.


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