Pan American Airways: Missions of Mercy and Evacuation Flights by Charlie Imbriani
By the mid to the late 1930s, Pan American Airways (Pan Am) had established air-service across the Atlantic, the Pacific, through South and Central America, and Caribbean. They pioneered the routes, designed the aircraft, and built the infrastructure along the way, including air and land facilities on Wake and Midway islands. This positioned Pan Am directly in the sights of the Japanese Imperial forces in the Pacific, and Wehrmacht in the Atlantic and Europe. Pan Am and its people were forged in WW II. By the war’s end, through the 1950s, Pan Am was well established in Berlin, Cuba, and Vietnam, just as the Cold War was heating up. By the 1960s, the Cold War was ablaze, and Pan Am was caught in the middle. Pan Am would play a critical role in all of these major events of 20th century U. S. history. In war and peace, Pan Am has been called upon to evacuate victims of war, revolution, acts of terrorism, oppressive regimes, and natural disasters. The airline and its people were always there when call-on; there was never a shortage of volunteers. These volunteers were real heroes, and this is their story. You won’t find this story in most history books, but you’ll find it all here, in Pan Am’s Missions of Mercy and Evacuation Flights.