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By 1944, Ernest Taylor Pyle (in Normandy, France) had won millions of loyal readers and a Pulitzer. (The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana)

On the Wing and On the Ground

Ernie Pyle's aviation and war dispatches.


Pilot Rescues Drowning Dog

Washington Daily News, June 5, 1930

The other day a friend of ours, “Sunset” Cox, sent me from Shanghai, a copy of the magazine Asiatic Fleet. In it was an article written by Cox, about a naval flier named Ballentine, who three and a half years before had landed in rough and dangerous seas off the southern Philippines to rescue a drowning dog.

“Sunset’s” excuse for reviving the story was that the seaplane tender Jason, from which Lieut. Ballentine flew, happened to be in Shanghai the other day, and that dog was still aboard, as mascot.

The story goes like this. Every year for four or five months a little fleet of American seaplane tenders stationed in the Far East, goes down to the Sulu Sea for aerial training maneuvers. The Sulu Sea is out of the typhoon belt and has more sunny days a year than Hollywood.

The Jason, one lazy morning, was lying off Zamboanga. Lieut. J.J. Ballentine was “lazying” around a thousand feet or so up in the sky. Then suddenly someone shouted that “Bally” must be in trouble, he was going down.

That wouldn’t have caused much excitement except for what was beneath him. He was headed for the water of the Basilan Straits, bad water, the “graveyard of anchors,” with a six-knot current swirling through it and full of sharks.

The sailors on the Jason watched him land. They saw him and his mechanic crawl down on the pontoon, then crawl back again. In a few seconds he was off the water and roaring back toward the Jason, only a hundred feet above the sea. The sailors couldn’t imagine what was up.

Ballentine landed and taxied up to the gangway and ran aboard with a bedraggled dog in his arms.

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