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Home History Rye Boy Lost in Maine Woods: 70 Years Ago...

Rye Boy Lost in Maine Woods: 70 Years Ago…

Seventy years ago, a 12 year old boy from Rye became lost in the Maine woods for nine days.

Donn-Fendler-Headline-Saved-1939 The unbelievable story was recently published again in the Bangor Daily News. In 1940, the boy, Donn Fendler, was presented the Army & Navy Legion of Valor's annual medal by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Fendler published a book called Lost on a Mountain in Maine in 1939 (read an excerpt).

If there are MyRye.com readers that remember the Fendler story, please leave your memory as a comment below.

The Bangor Daily News story:

"70 years ago a mountain in Maine challenged a boy’s will to survive
12-year-old Donn Fendler emerged alive after nine days lost in the wilderness

By Nok-Noi Ricker
BDN Staff

A storm broke out on Mount Katahdin on July 17, 1939 and caught Donn Fendler, a 12-year-old from Rye, N.Y., and his 16-year-old friend Henry Condon in its cold, misty grip as high winds whirled heavy fog all around them.

The two had hiked ahead of a group that included Fendler’s father Donald, twin brother Ryan, younger brother Tommy and Fred Eaton, a family friend.

“We had left my dad and two brothers because they were going too slow,” Fendler, who turns 83 on Aug. 29, said, recalling the day 70 years ago when he became lost on the state’s largest mountain…

The two inexperienced hikers were on the plateau near Katahdin’s summit when the wall of fog hit, terrifying the young Fendler so much he made a panicked decision that changed his life forever.

“I left Henry because I was scared,” he said. “I had never been on a mountain in a storm. I just wanted to get back to my dad.”

The unprepared Boy Scout decided to try to hike down to his father, but left the trail at some point and became lost for nine days in the dense Maine woods…

After hiking approximately 35 miles from where he wandered away from his hiking companion near the summit, Fendler’s prayers were finally answered the afternoon of July 25, 1939, when he found a hunting camp on the East Branch of the Penobscot River.

The Bangor Daily News’ bold headline on July 26, 1939, stated: DONN FENDLER FOUND ALIVE.

“Naked and nearly exhausted, 12-year-old Donn Fendler of Rye, N.Y., emerged dramatically this afternoon from the wilderness that had held him prisoner for nine days,” the front page story said…"

read the full story

visit Donn Fendler's web site


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