The Man Who Would Not Die is a true story which could easily be the script for the next Bond movie. Herschel McKee, nicknamed 'The man who would not die', survived numerous skirmishes with death before finally succumbing to a stroke at the age of 67. At his funeral, five women produced evidence of being married to him.
Herschel Jessup McKee was born on 19 November 1897, In Indianapolis, USA. By the age of 16 he had run away from home and subsequently joined the French Foreign Legion to fight in the Great War. At first he fought in the trenches, before catching a virulent form of pneumonia and being given the last rites. Despite three crashes in training, he then qualified as a pilot for the famed Lafayette Flying Corps and secured 12 kills becoming the youngest Ace. He was eventually shot down and captured before escaping to Switzerland.
With the war over, McKee returned to his home town but his adventures were not over. In 1919, he became a riding mechanic in the Indy 500-mile race and survived a crash in which the car turned over and burst into flames.
Herschel became a daredevil motorcycle rider, took up barnstorming and continued his role as a riding mechanic - surely three of the most hazardous occupations. After numerous crashes and lucky escapes, Herschel's flying experience saw him get involved with development of the Boeing B17 - the so-called 'Flying Fortress'. He flew one on a test flight and skillfully handled it through a hailstorm.
He subsequently joined the United States Air Force and was shipped to England to fly bombing raids over Germany during the Second World War. Herschel was decorated by General de Gaulle and survived a 1,000-foot jump from a crashing aircraft by landing in a haystack.
After the war, he continued to fly - piloting experimental aircraft. Herschel escaped death in three more crashes but 'The Man who would not die' finally did so aged 67, by succumbing to complications of a stroke.
Author, Dr Stephen Olvey, is the son-in-law of Linda McKee, Herschel's only child. He wrote the remarkable biography of Herschel McKee based on newspaper clippings, family photos, family talk and extensive research.
He writes: We have all enjoyed movies about famous war heroes, daring risk-takers and covert operatives. Herschel McKee was all three. He survived the trenches of World War One. Bullets and bombs didn't kill him during World War Two. Airplane, motorcycle and car crashes didn't kill him, and neither did the Chinese. He truly was the man who wouldn't die.
Author Dr Olvey is available for interview
Review copies available
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