As we discussed in yesterday’s fun fact prison breaks never fail to capture America’s imagination. Who among us can beat the odds and escape from that which was made to contain us?
It is with this concept in our hearts that we bring you…
AFFotD’s History of the Best American Prison Escapes Part 2
Dieter Dengler Did That Scene From The Deer Hunter, But Without the Russian Roulette…Probably
Let’s be real here for a second. Of all the places you’d not want to be, Vietnamese POW camp had to be high on that list. If our understanding of Hollywood representations are correct, it was the second most brutal part of the Vietnam War (next to all the collateral damage and children-murder-sprees. Thanks for the heads up Oliver Stone!). Plus, you know…no air conditioning. And bugs. Oh, and the being starved to death and living in bamboo cages and yada yada, yeah. It was no picnic, is basically what we’re saying.
“Wow honey, you were right. This IS the complete polar opposite of spending time in a Vietnamese POW camp. Open mouth, insert foot, I guess! Ha ha! Whose kids are these?”
But the German-American Navy pilot, Dieter Dengler, had to find that out the hard way. On February 1st, 1966, Dengler’s aircraft was shot down in enemy territory. His squadron mates weren’t even concerned, since Dengler had excelled at escaping from mock-POW situations during his training. He was eventually captured by Pathet Lao guerrillas, who were loyal to North Vietnam. He was bound and led through several villages, during which point he escaped because get that shit out of our house, commies. He failed to signal a passing aircraft, and was captured again, this time being the recipient of some good old fashioned torturing as punishment for trying to escape.
“Stop escaping yourself, stop escaping yourself.”
Eventually, Dengler and his six fellow POWs formulated a plan to escape, slipping out of their hand and foot restraints and grabbing unattended weapons while the guards ate. As they attacked, Dengler grabbed an M1 rifle and shot at least three of the guards, proving the theoretical existence of Rambo in the process. Dengler spent weeks in the woods with a fellow POW, Duane Martin, who was later killed by a Vietnamese villager. He eventually spent 23 days in the jungle before being rescued by American forces.
Having successfully escaped the hells of a Vietnamese POW camp, and of spending almost a month fending for himself in the jungle, Dengler settled down once he returned to the states. And by “settled down” we mean “got a job as a test pilot and survived four plane crashes.” We always get those two mixed up.
Billy Hayes Didn’t Particularly Take to Turkish Prisons
In the 1970’s, Turkey started cracking down on American students smuggling drugs out from their country. Despite the fact that everything in Turkey is made out of drugs, the Turkish government was probably starting to get pissed off that so many damn hippies were coming over to bring drugs back to the states. It was during this time, in 1970, that Billy Hayes made the mistake that many white Americans afraid to stuff condoms filled with drugs up their rectum make- he got caught trying to smuggle two kilos of hashish into a plane.
Hash. Stoner’s Gold. Brewed in tea.
Proving true the adage that we just now invented of, “If you’re not willing to stick some drugs up your butt, prepare to have your feet beaten by Turkish prison guards,” Billy Hayes did not put the drugs up his butt, and instead got his feet beaten by Turkish prison guards. Originally sentenced to a bit more than 4 years, a few months before his sentence was set to end, Hayes was informed that his sentence had been extended to 30 years instead.
At this point, Hayes decided, “Oh, hell no,” and decided to try to escape. After being transferred to an island prison, Hayes got in a fight with a prison guard and stole his uniform. After hiding in a crate for a few days, he went to the harbor and stole a small rowboat, rowed back to Turkey, dyed his hair, before finally swimming across a river to get to Greece. He was interrogated by Greece for a few weeks before finally being deported to America, where we can only assume he did, just, like so much hash to celebrate. We’re only speculating that he made a life-sized statue of himself completely out of hash and spent the next month gnawing away at it, but we feel confident enough about that statement that we’re going to put it on Billy Hayes’ Wikipedia page.
As of this article’s publication, that paragraph has stayed on the page for over a week
Imagine Sean Connery in The Rock, Only Not British And Probably Drowned
Frank Morris, Clarence Anglin, and John Anglin had a long rap sheet of various crimes, and had a nasty habit of trying to escape from Prison, which landed them at Alcatrez, a prison so inescapable that not even Michael Bay can make it lame.
By 1962, the first stage of the most complex escape attempt in this whole feature was underway, as the three had dug through the cell’s vent holes using crude tools, and they had fashioned papier-mâché-like dummy heads out of toilet paper, soap, paint, and human hair.
“AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH oh yeah that’s pretty ingenious, very clever AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”
The inmates stole glue and used those to make raincoats into a makeshift raft, and made a drill using a spare motor from a vacuum cleaner that had broken and been sent to Allen West, a fourth prisoner involved in the planning of the escape who was unable to take part in the actual attempt. Finally, after months of preparation, on June 11, 1962, Morris and the Anglin brothers brought out the dummies, removed the ventilator grill, climbed 30 feet up the plumbing to the roof of the cellhouse, taking their raft out into the bay.
They were never seen again, which some optimists might say that they successfully escaped and went into hiding, living out a secret double life knowing that they had successfully escaped the inescapable prison.
But honestly, they’re probably fish food. Which is a bummer, but we can still appreciate the ostentatious American effort put into this escape, just like all of the previously mentioned American prison breaks.