To the Cuban Exiles and Al Larson:
The rescued survivors of Kilometer 8 would like to share some information about ourselves and say…
Thank you for your bravery
and for saving our lives at KM 8, Kisangani, Congo.
Compiled by John McMillan, September 2011
Copyright 2011 by John McMillan, Gig Harbor Washington.
All rights reserved under Copyright Conventions. No part of this booklet may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the copyright owner. All inquiries should be addressed to John McMillan, 9816 Jacobsen Lane, Gig Harbor, WA 98332.
In 1960 Belgium had given Congo (Dem. Rep. of Congo) its independence, but most Congolese opposed the newly installed government believing it was supported by the West and civil war ensued. Fidel Castro used the opportunity to launch a military expedition to Congo to export his Cuban revolution and exploit Congo’s rich resources. By the later part of 1964 the country was an East-West, Cold War battlefield. Many countries were involved in the conflict including Cuba, the Soviet Union, The People’s Republic of China, the United States (represented by military advisers, the CIA and Cuban exiles), Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, and several African countries. Stories of inhuman brutality by Communist trained Simba (Swahili for Lion) rebels against white-skinned civilians began to surface and the taking of hostages and killings occurred in central and eastern Congo.
On November 24th, 1964, two groups of people were miraculously brought together at a place called Kilometer 8 just outside of Kisangani (Stanleyville). One group was the 25 missionaries that had been under house arrest for several months and now were trapped as hostages of the Simbas at the headquarters of the Unevangelized Fields Mission (UFM) 8 kilometers north of Kisangani.
The other group was the special operations Cuban exiles led by CIA’s Rip Robertson. These men were willing to fight communism anywhere in the world and were brought to Congo under the CIA’s plan to rescue US Embassy personnel in Kisangani. The Cuban exiles, when asked by UFM Field Leader, Al Larson, to rescue the missionaries including his wife and small daughter, agreed to undertake the rescue attempt. With Al showing the way, the Cubans bravely launched out with guns ablaze beyond the safety of Kisangani within hours of the town’s liberation from rebel forces. 24 of the 25 missionaries were rescued and brought back to Kisangani airport to be flown to safety. Missionary Hector McMillan was killed just 2 hours before the rescuers arrived. Two of Hector’s sons, Ken and Paul were wounded at the time their father was killed. Two members of the rescue team were wounded prior to the rescue mission but went along anyway and one team member was wounded during the rescue.
So now almost 47 years later, a book entitled, Cold War in the Congo, by Frank Villafana, about the confrontation of Cuban military forces in Congo and the significant role played by the anti-Castro Cuban exiles in the Kisangani rescues, is read by Janet Ray of Miami who begins the process of bringing the two groups together.
Cuban exiles who were deployed in Congo:
|Rescued Survivors of KM 8||KM 8 Rescuers|
|Olive Bjerkseth*||Rip Robertson*|
|Lois Carper*||Al Larson|
|Marilyn Carper (Wendler)||David Grant*|
|Muriel Davis||Santiago Arguelles|
|Steve Davis||Alcio Calas|
|Beth Ann Davis||Alfredo Fernandez|
|Mina Erskine (Allan)||Conrado Fernandez|
|Jean Larson||Felix Fuentes|
|Carol Larson (Urquhart)||Orlando Garcia|
|Bob McAllister||Jose Gonzalez Castro|
|Alma McAllister*||Jose Hernandez|
|Bill McAllister||Guillermo Lazo|
|David McAllister||Pedro Lopez|
|Ruth McAllister (Reynard)||Ricardo Morales Navarrete|
|Ione McMillan*||Manuel Rivero|
|Ken McMillan||Jorge Rodriguez|
|Paul McMillan||Andres Romero|
|David McMillan||Jorge Silva|
|John McMillan||Juan Tamayo|
|Steve McMillan||Angel Benitez|
|Tim McMillan||Alberto Perez|
|Thelma Southard||Raymondo Martinez|
* known to be deceased
Marilyn Carper (Wendler)
My mother, Lois, and I were in the group rescued from Km. 8 outside of Stanleyville on Nov. 24, 1964. My father, Del Carper, was in the group of hostages at the hotel in downtown Stanleyville. They subsequently returned to Congo and served as missionaries there until 1974. They then served together in France as missionaries until 1986 when my mother, age 59, died of leukemia.
My father continued serving in France until his retirement in 1992, age 67. He will be 86 in February, and currently lives in a veterans’ retirement home in Chula Vista, CA.
My husband, Bruce, and I live in Burbank, CA. We have 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren (the last one was born in June 2011…after the photo in May 2010!) Our daughter and son-in-law live in Louisville, KY and have the four children. Our middle son is finishing emergency medicine residency in preparation for medical missions work in Burundi. Our youngest son and daughter-in-law live in San Diego, CA. He is an accountant and she is an RN.
Realizing the sacrifice people made to deliver me and my family from the Simba Rebellion has always been a poignant reminder of the sacrifice Jesus made to deliver me from the eternal consequences of my own rebellion and sin. THANK YOU to all the brave soldiers and THANK YOU, JESUS!
The Davis Family
For Muriel the experience with our UFM friends at Km 8 will never be erased from her mind. The details that she shares with me from time to time are always illuminating. Not having been on the spot (Chuck was being held hostage in Stanleyville at the time.-Ed.), I have no mental images to retain only the memories however clouded by the mists of time that Muriel has shared with me. Steve shared some things with me recently of how he acted in the trailer being drawn by the jeep in which soldiers were making their way through a fire fight with rebel Simbas trying to get back into the relative safety of Stanleyville. Most of this took place after or simultaneously with our experience in the city with the Stanleyville massacre.
We are forever grateful for the life threatening commitment of these Florida Cubans without whom our families may have been lost. Let me give you a bit of insight on how they got there. I’m sure you know all this but I’ve not had occasion to put this in writing recently. After the Stanleyville massacre and the death of Dr. Paul Carlson we were freed by the Belgian para-commandos from our closet tomb with a glass door where God miraculously hid Al Larson, Del Carper and myself while the rebels where hunting out those who had dispersed from the street during the massacre. When the commandos released us we were brought under heavy guard to the airport where I was collared by an American Major who had been sent to be sure that American hostages were gotten safely from the city. Al and Del saw me being brought against my will to the plane for evacuation and they turned and ran. It was then that the Cuban ground forces were just coming into the city after having been detained by a rebel ambush outside the city to the South. Al convinced them somehow, despite the language barrier, to drive out to Km 8, to get the families out. The rest is the history that you McMillan boys know more about than I.
After leaving Stanleyville we were home for two years during which the Lord opened so many opportunities to present the glow of His glory in the darkness of the Simba enterprise. In 1965 I had traveled 115,000 miles and preached or taught over 350 times. Then we returned to work in Switzerland to work with a French church where we had originally learned our French. It allowed me to deepen my knowledge of the language and though we didn’t know it the Lord was preparing the both of us to return to the Congo after we had been there for one and half years. In all we spent 14 years committed to the Congo and the seminary before the mission Africa Inland Mission asked us to come home and represent the mission’s interests in the campus world. Our search was to find the best folks to export into the many needs of our work in Africa. Later because I had so many church meetings apart from my campus work the mission changed the title to National Representative which I did for 30 years. I missed Congo and the people and the growing needs of the seminary but the mission felt it was a better use of the gifts God had planted in me to speak to the student world about missions than to train African church leadership. Because we wanted to go back it made us more diligent in communicating our love for the work. Now of course we are retired after having worked 47 active years with the mission.
Love, Chuck and Muriel Davis
Carol Larson (Urquhart)
Please extend my utmost thanks to them (Cuban exiles) for saving my life. There are no words to honestly say that express my gratitude.
The McAllister Family
The McAllister family would like to collectively thank you for rescuing us on Nov. 24th, 1964. You risked your own lives to save us and for that we are forever grateful. While our lives have been varied and different, we all share the same experience and memories of those days in the Congo. We will never forget those missionaries and Congolese friends who did not survive those awful days and for the past 47 years, we have always wondered why. Yet, we know that ultimately, God is God and we are simply His people. Life can be difficult and hard to understand and often we need others to help us through. That day you all appeared at Km 8 was such a time.
We needed your help, and you were there – thank you!
It is amazing that we have connected again after all these years. God bless you!
Bob and Alma McAllister
Bob and Alma were in the group you rescued. Alma was a mid-wife and actually went out at nights from the compound into the forest to check on women in labor and even to deliver babies. One night she left to deliver a baby only to find a hut full of Simbas with guns and knives. They told her they would watch while she delivered the baby but that she needed to know, they did not want anything to do with the missionaries or “their God”. The baby was born – dead! Alma explained the situation to Bob who had just arrived breathless from running through the forest to find her! He held the baby in his arms and simply said, “Lord, you have heard what has been said. We believe you ARE God and we ask that you show it here today!” The baby started to cry and kick!!! Today, he is a church leader in that area.
Alma passed on in 2007 after over 40 years as a missionary. Bob, Alma, Billy, David, and Ruth spent 10 years speaking at various meetings and church services in Ireland, UK, Europe and the US. They sang together and actually recorded several albums as “The McAllister Family”. Their ministry touched thousands of people around the world – people would come to see the family singing together and each time, the story of 1964 would be told in memory of those friends who died there.
Bob is still living in Northern Ireland and is 85 years of age. He continues to tell the story and speak at meetings and church services. He is a blessing to all he meets and continues to be an example and mentor to his family. Bob and Alma were great friends of Ione and Hector McMillan. On the day you came to rescue us, Bob and Hector stood together facing the Simba guns. Hector was shot to death and Bob was grazed on his head, but he survived. His words to the Simbas were, “You have shot my best friend!”
Billy (William) McAllister
“Billy” was one of the older ‘kids’ on the compound. He was 12. He was friends with the McMillan “boys” and with the older boys, had some responsibility to keep the younger ones in order and safe from harm. Billy always stood “second in command” for the McAllisters to Bob, his father and each day watched anxiously as his dad would meet the Simbas in the driveway and worried as his mother would leave the compound to help Congolese women in the forest – wondering if he would see her again. His younger siblings, David and Ruth, did not have the same worries as Billy carried the burden for them
Since those days, Billy has completed a B.D. degree and a Dip. of Social Anthropology at Queens University, Belfast, and completed a Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. His thesis was a study of the history of the church in Eastern Congo. Billy married Norma, a nurse and midwife and together they served in the Congo as missionaries with the World Wide Evangelization Crusade (WEC), Compassion Canada, and Christian Blind Mission International. Billy and Norma have four children: Kerry is living in Dubai with her two children, Rosheen and Maeve, and her husband, Kieran. Keith is a famous painter of African wildlife and a photographer for various mission organizations [http://www.natureartists.com/keith_mcallister.asp ]. Cheryl is living in England and is getting married next year. Adrian lives and works in Cambridge, England, and is a musician.
Currently, Billy and Norma live in England where Billy is UK Director for Christian Blind Mission and Norma is the general manager of a hospital [ http://www.cbmuk.org.uk/ ] .
David was 10 when you all came to rescue us. He was sheltered by his older brother and “bothered” by his little sister. So, David found ways to occupy his high energy and inquisitive nature. He and “Stevie” McMillan would get up to mischief on a regular basis and tested Alma’s and Ione’s patience on more than one occasion. His nature was always, however, sunny and often cheered Alma’s heart with his huge smile and warm hug. David was always a source of comfort and joy and had an incredible love for people – particularly those in need or harm.
Since the rescue in 1964, David graduated from Queens’ University in Belfast with a Bachelor of Agriculture degree and began his work in the Congo working with agricultural projects. He married Sabine, after meeting at Bible School in France, and together they had four children and worked for many years in the Congo and Kenya with Compassion International and Christian Blind Mission. They now live in N. Ireland and there, he is Irish director for Christian Blind Mission and Sabine was worked tirelessly in peace and reconciliation with victims of the “Troubles”. Their oldest son, Daniel, is getting married next year and lives in England. His has worked for several years with the Irish Heart Foundation. Philip is also now living in England and is a physical trainer and rugby player and has been involved in several mission projects using sports to reach children and youth. Patrick plays rugby for the Ulster team and is involved in the Christian Athlete’s Association [ http://talkingrugbyunion.co.uk/pro12/irish-teams/ulster/patrick-mcallister-profile ] . Christina is at university studying nursing like her Granny Alma.
David continues to travel around war torn and violence-ridden areas of the world bringing hope and help to thousands with his work with CBMI [ http://www.cbm.ie/ ] .
Memories of David McAllister of the rescuers on Nov. 24th, 1964:
- As a 10 year old, I was enthralled how they (the rescuers) jumped off the vehicles and equipment belts and guns and bullets and “secured” the area by crouching behind the four big trees in the driveway with guns pointing to the forest while the commanding officer came striding down the pathway to meet Dad (Bob McAllister).
- I remember standing beside Dad and was captivated and scared of this huge commanding officer (he was a Texan and was a Major I think…?) and he looked down at me and said ” I have something for you kid” and he opened his ammo pouch (I was really scared) and he pulled out a Hershey chocolate bar!
- I distinctly remember three vehicles, one pick-up and two jeeps, the jeeps had trailers
- I remember I was annoyed they put me in a jeep to sit on ammo boxes under the machine gun but what I really wanted was to sit in the trailer as it would be swinging a lot during the drive!
- I remember sitting beside Steve (McMillan) on top of the ammo boxes and I distinctly remember the powerful “thud, thud, thud” of the heavy machine gun as the man fired the whole way in to Stanleyville
- I remember seeing mud huts disintegrate as he shot them up on the way in to town.
Ruth McAllister (Reynard)
Ruth was only 4 when you rescued us that day. She remembers leaving her doll behind and the dog! She also remembers that her best friend was Larry Southard, also rescued that day and who was 3. While the bigger kids didn’t really hang out with them, they, nevertheless, found many curious things to keep their attention. One was the day when they were outside at the side of the house and came running back in shouting, “Come out everyone to see the men with the funny hats!!” Those were the Simbas dressed for war and who had come to shoot everyone. Moments later, Ruth and Larry were lined up with their families and faced the firing squad.
Since 1964, Ruth has completed a B.A. in Literature and Language at Queens’ University, Belfast and an M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Toronto. Ruth met Andrew (Andy) who was from England and they married and had four children. Together, while in full time church ministry, they have lived in Germany, Canada, and the US. Andy, who has an M.Div. degree was a pastor for 20 years and he and Ruth have been involved in various church and community projects; helping marriages and families through counseling and support. Hannah, their eldest daughter is married to Cam. She is in medical school and has a vision for the “Alma McAllister Center for Women’s Health” one day in the Congo. Paul is married and he and his wife, Stephanie, have a baby son, Luke. Paul and his brother, Stephen (both college athletes), started the Sports4Hope organization to bring peace and reconciliation through sports and peace education to children, youth and communities in war-torn areas of the world www.sports4hope.org . Stephen is headed for the Congo this fall with Sport4Hope and their initial project is in the Bunia area of Eastern Congo. Bethany is studying elementary education at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. She is planning a mission’s trip next year to an orphanage in Uganda.
Personal letter to Al Larson from the McAllisters:
It has been many years since we were all together and much has happened. Recently, we have been reconnected, as you know, with the group of Cuban commandos who came to rescue as that day at Km 8. We would love to be with you and them on Sept. 29th as you reunite. What a reunion!!
While we cannot be there in person, please know that we send our thanks to the group and we would also like to thank you for your bravery and courage in arranging for our rescue. Of course, as kids, we didn’t really know the full impact that was going on, however, now as adults, we realize the stress you must have been under and the great wisdom, innovation, and boldness you demonstrated that day in working out the details of our rescue. We owe you so much and we (and our children and their children) are eternally grateful!
David’s own words are, “It struck me yesterday very forcefully that we owe it all to Al Larson….it must have been very hectic and chaotic in Stanleyville that day and he had gone through his own incredible trauma….his wife and child and friends were somewhere in the jungle and I cannot even imagine the turmoil this young man was going through as he tried to get a military force put together to come rescue us….at this event when you are all thanking the rescuers please, please, go to Al and thank him personally and very sincerely from me.”
We all add our thanks to David’s words and wish we could deliver them in person.
God bless you!
The McMillan Family
McMillan family in 1963 (front row L-R), Ken, John, Steve, Tim, (back row L-R), Hector, Ione, David, Paul
The above photo may be the only one available that shows the entire McMillan family within two years of the time Hector was killed. It is certain that Ione, if she were still with us, would have loved to meet our rescuers again and thank them personally.
But 47 years has brought a lot of changes in each of our lives and those of us that remain on this earth are happy to share with you our family information, our thoughts, some photos of our families and projects, and especially our gratefulness and thanks to the Cuban exiles and Al Larson for your courage and bravery in coming out to KM 8 to rescue us.
November 24, 1964 will remain one of the most pivotal and fateful days in all our lives. As Al Larson said to Chuck Davis just as they awoke as hostages in Kisangani that morning and seeing transport planes flying overhead, “This is it,” he said, “The next hour should tell the story.” And what a story it is.
From the McMillan family – THANK YOU.
Ione McMillan passed away in 1976 but she was a prolific writer and her inspirational life is documented in her many letters to family and supporters. After the death of Hector, her loving husband and father to the 6 boys in 1964, she began to write her own story. Her story is being formally prepared for public reading but the McMillan family would like to share an excerpt of her account of November 24th from her writings as follows:
MARTYRED AT KILOMETER 8
Ch. 6 – NOVEMBER 24
(Readers should note that Ione refers early in her writings to KM 8 rescuers as mercenaries, not knowing at the time that they were in fact, Cuban exiles.- Ed.)
James Hamilton said in commenting on Psalms 106:33, “…no man can tell on any dawning day but what that day be the most trying day in all his life; how wise to pray without ceasing, “Uphold me according unto Thy words.”
“Drip! Drip! Drip!” Left-over rain fell from the umbrella-like clusters of parasolia swinging toward the early morning sun. Sleepy jungle parrots stretched themselves, and lifted their grey and red wings to flap with strident screech ineptly across the grassy mission compound.
It was November 24, 1964, and the McMillans were beginning their 112th day of house arrest under the rebel government. Our sleeping quarters were in the ‘hangar’, a large spreading cement block and rammed earth building which had formerly been an old furniture ‘menuiserie’. The ‘hangar’ paralleled the spacious main structure of the headquarters of the Unevangelized Fields Mission, five miles outside of Stanleyville, Republic of Congo, now called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
My Canadian husband looked up lovingly at me from where he was sitting on one of the two camp cots, which belonged to Ken, aged 17, and Paul, aged 16. Hector’s long, now quite thin, legs were neatly folded back so as not to have his feet trodden upon by the troup around him. A cluster of boyish legs in khaki shorts filled the tiny aisle between us.
I breathed deeply, feeling the fresh tropically-warmed breeze through the louvered glass windows, and then sat down carefully on the sunny side of the tucked-in blanket of 13-year-old John’s bed. His cot fitted squarely into the head of 15-year-old David’s. They liked to sleep with their heads together.
Hector was checking his little notebook which contained the Bible verses claimed each day for his six sons. He observed with satisfaction that the total of verses for the past three years was now up to 6,000. His leather-bound Bible was lying in his lap. Familiarly adjacent was an over-sized worn copy of Martin Luther’s, “Reformation”, its quotations having been the highlight for several weeks in our family worship. Especially pre-eminent was the great reformer’s prayer on the night before his trial: “Do Thou, my God, stand by me against all the world’s wisdom and reason. Oh, do it! Stand by me, Thou true, eternal God!”
Hector was opening the Bible as I considered our family of boys. From Tim, aged 10, to Stephen, almost 12, around the cluster of legs and eager faces. Genesis 42:11 came to mind – “We are all one man’s sons; we are true men,” and I prayed that they might become six true men of God.
The Lord had sent us six little men in the midst of a 20-year missionary career. When it was evident that ours were all boys, Hector decided that this was because of the shortage of men on the mission field. Like the two famous missionary brothers, Drs. Don and Dick Hillis, ours would be “reared”, as well as “called” to be missionaries.
“Perhaps the Lord wants us to raise missionary men,” Hector suggested, and then set about to do just that. His tools were the “rod” and the “book”, the rod being the short stout strap which was never far away from the book, which was God’s own Holy Word.
“You can never have too many well-behaved children,” a friend had written comfortingly upon receiving the announcement of the sixth. So I decided that they must be well-behaved. And I stood with Hector in his plan for “on the spot” obedience.
Such obedience was paying off in time of stress. The discipline required by our captors was of the “obey first, question later” type, and although the rebels’ unreasonableness extended beyond what we had taught the boys to expect, the result was an alertness and a genuine thrust that the Lord would never make it too hard.
Hector sensed my thoughts concerning the boys and his warm hazel-brown eyes were misty as he confidently opened the Bible.
But before he could read the first word, we hear the sound of the airplanes.
“A plane!” Ken cried in a guarded whisper, remembering the rebels across the road. Hector laid his Bible on the bed as we moved quietly in a group through the door, and then through the unfinished middle of the ‘hangar’, to the back exit. There we saw Muriel Davis and her two little ones, Stevie, aged four, and Beth Ann, nearly two, coming out of their room. At the same time Lois Carper and daughter Marilyn, aged 11, appeared from the other side of the bathroom. Muriel’s husband, Chuck, and Lois’ Del were down in the town of Stanleyville, eight kilometers away, being held with the political, merchant and missionary hostages. Al Larson, our Field Leader, just come out from his furlough, a few weeks before the rebel occupation, was also held in the same place.
Stepping out into the sunlight, we saw auburn-haired Jean Larson and happy little two-year-old Carol on the back porch of the main building next to us, along with Mina Erskine, Olive Bjerkseth and Viola Walker. The McAllisters were looking skyward as they came from under the overhanging roof of their low, three-roomed brick “servant’s quarters” behind the main building of Kilometer Eight. Bobbie McAllister was the husband and father of the Irish family composed of Alma, who was a nurse, their two sons Billy and David, and little 4-year-old Ruth. Lastly we saw Mrs. Thelma Southard coming with an excited little son Larry, aged four, behind the single ladies. Twenty-five pairs of eyes were gazing up. The boys counted the planes – one, two, three, four, now flying over Stanleyville.
“‘They’ will be looking up, too, “Jean Larson reminded us of our captors, guards of the People’s Army of Liberation, across the road in the house that formerly belonged to Charles Bonte, a Belgian planter.
We sought to regain our composure and went back to finish family worship.
“Breakfast! Then yard clean-up!” announced Bob McAllister, and led the way into the main house to the three tables.
When seated, I noticed that the other mothers were making a studied attempt at concentrating upon the meal. I said to myself, “It does taste good, this Bulgar wheat. It was toasted and boiled just right, a good portion of each. And I must eat it all, as I don’t know when we might eat again.”
The children watched their parents and the beloved single ladies, and carefully finished their cereal.
Hector was the first away from the table, as it was his job to prepare the dish water for washing up. At exactly 8 o’clock I slipped into his place at the sink.
“It’s time for the BBC News,” I told him, He and Bobbie went into the living room and sat down by the small radio.
The British Broadcasting Company was giving out the decision of the Americans and Belgians to send in the para-troopers to assist the overland mercenaries in the rescue of the hundreds of white people being held by rebels in and around Stanleyville, Congo.
We knew the world was concerned about us. But it takes water to wash dishes, and when the water supply stopped, it was our third son, David, who was dispatched to the motor house, to turn the crank which started the diesel motor pumping water from the well to the kitchen.
The hum of the pumping could be heard along with the noise of the planes which continued overhead. As Hector turned off the world news he glanced out the front door and saw rebel soldiers running toward the well. He hurried out and met them halfway, noticing how extremely agitated they were.
“Stop it!” they screamed at Hector first, and then at Bobbie, who came swiftly alongside.
“Stop what?” the men inquired.
“Stop that ‘machinie’ with which you are signaling to the planes!”
The missionaries quickly stopped the ‘machinie’ and returned to their captors for further orders. It was then they saw other soldiers coming.
One carried a rifle, another a pistol
“Cause everyone to line up in the back yard!” came the order in Swahili.
I wiped my hands on a towel and crossed the kitchen and back porch.
A rebel soldier was by this time inside and he swept everyone ahead of him as we made for the door.
“Hurry!” he shouted, and emphasized his words by tipping over a table and breaking a bottle.
He pushed Muriel Davis, and I caught her before she tumbled down the steps.
Nine women and fourteen children lined up in the back yard of Kilometer Eight. Hector and Bobbie were roughly hustled off toward the road and a waiting vehicle. The rest of us were waved back into the house. Our feet seemed heavy as we climbed the back steps and filed through the dining room into the living room of the main building. The man with the pistol followed us.
As we sat down wherever we could, we watched the young rebel who looked about 30 years old. His eyes were fierce with a glassy brightness. He went into the bedroom, emptied a suitcase and filled it with sardines from the hall cupboard. These he handed to his helper. He came very close to me as he seized the radio and passed it on to his aide.
Then, pacing nervously back and forth like the ‘lion’ that he was, the young man began to fire his pistol.
“They must be blanks,” I reasoned, as I counted four shots.
But the bullets were flying, and we were falling to the floor as we were told to do in such times, mothers covering their tiny children with their own bodies. I don’t know where all of my sons were just then. Ken and Paul were in chairs around the dining room table near to the soldier. Later, when I asked which ones were sitting and which were on the floor, Stephen said emphatically to me, “Mother, I was flat out!”
We remained still on the floor until the Simba went out the back door. Alma McAllister looked from one to the other. Sixteen –year-old Paul opened his eyes and saw his older brother, Ken was contorted with pain. “Kenny’s been shot,” Paul said. He felt a trickle on his own cheek, brushed it with his hand, and discovered that he too, had been hit. A quick but silent inventory determined that the two boys were the only victims of the Simba’s close range shooting. Alma quietly moved over beside them and assessed that while Paul’s injury was slight, Ken’s was more serious. He had been struck in the hip by a bullet that had gone through the aluminum table and bounced off the floor. Alma quickly stopped the flow of blood.
We heard shots fired outside. Hector clutched his leg. Bobbie shouted, “You’ve shot my friend!” then ran as fast as he could toward Hector. The gun was turned on him and fired. The bullet left a red welt as it grazed his forehead. He threw himself on his face and remained as he fell.
Hector, still holding his leg, turned toward the house, as he heard us crying. At this time the final bullet was sent into the back of his left shoulder. It passed through his chest and out his right upper arm. He died instantly.
Alma cleaned up Paul’s bleeding cheek and put a bandage over it. A longer time was required to stop the bleeding at Ken’s hip. As soon as this was accomplished, Alma joined Thelma Southard by the window and they observed that the rebel car was gone.
I lifted up my eyes above the window ledge in the living room in time to see a second car coming from town. It hesitated, then stopped, the rebel occupants peering out toward the path leading to the house.
One said, “Look, the white people are already dead. Let’s go on to the next place.” They drove on.
Bob McAllister was lying on the path near the road, face down. I couldn’t see Hector at first. As I crept out on the screened porch, Alma and Thelma went out the back door and around the outside of the house.
I looked through the bamboo blinds and discovered Hector very near the front steps, on his back under the nearest mango tree. There was blood on the sleeve of his light yellow shirt. The two missionary women approached cautiously, and spoke to Hector.
“If he answers, I’ll know he’s not dead,” I assured myself, but I could tell by the white face and its expression that Hector was already gone. He did not answer the ladies when they called his name. They looked from him to Alma’s husband.
“Bobbie, are you alright?” She almost feared to hope.
Slowly Bob lifted his head from where he was lying on his face. His arms and legs moved into position as he raised himself. As he stood I saw the red welt on his head. He came silently toward them and stooped to help the ladies carry Hector’s body into the house.
I met them at the back door and opened it. As I shared the load, Thelma turned to the others and said mournfully,
I searched Alma’s face.
“Alma, has he gone?”
She replied, “Ione, he’s with the Lord,”
Job’s words came to me so I said quietly,
“The Lord hath given and the Lord hath taken away – blessed be the Name of the Lord.”
We carried our precious load past Ken and put it on the bed in Larson’s room. I called the boys around him, except for Ken, who was lying on a mattress on the floor in the hall. We examined Hector’s wounds and I asked Alma if there was any way to revive him. She shook her head.
So I said to the boys, “You see your Daddy here this way, and there is nothing we can do to save his life. Now, you can cry if you wish, but I don’t think I will, because I am so proud of him, and so glad that he could give his life for Jesus.”
Stephen wiped his tears. Tim didn’t cry but felt sick. He walked into the bathroom and vomited, then came back and lay on little Carol Ann’s bed nearby.
Paul, David and John came as near as they could and sat down. The other missionaries gathered in the hall, some in the office at the end of the hall.
We talked together for a little while and then, because we all felt that more rebels would be coming, it was decided that six of the women should take the tiny children down into the forest to hide. The McAllisters and Viola Walker stayed with me.
Feeling that we might be there for some time, Alma tried to remove the bullet from Ken’s hip. I left Hector’s body and went to help. She had only a razor blade. And the slug was deeply lodged, so she eventually gave it up. She stopped and made tea in the kitchen. Viola served cool aid to the McAllister children and ours.
During this time the youngest son Timothy, now feeling better, sat down beside us on the floor and began in his high, 10-year-old voice to quote Psalm 124:
“If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when men rose up against us; then they had swallowed us up quick, when their wrath was kindled against us. Then the waters had overwhelmed us, the stream had gone over our soul. Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the Name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
Ken was lying quietly, but lifted his head once and asked me,
“Mother, will you come back to Congo?”
I said, “Yes, if you boys are willing.”
At this point six or seven local friendly Congolese came into the house. I arose to greet them and showed them Hector’s body. One tall man was a local leader. Several I did not know, but I was sure they were not rebels. One couple I knew well. It was old Ndule, and his wife, Terese. Toothless Ndule was the mission gardener. Faithful for many years, he now came to pay his last respects to the man who led him to the Lord. Terese put her small arms about me and said timidly, “O, Mama!” I appreciated their bravery in identifying themselves with us.
One of these friendly folk went over to the workshop at the back of the hangar and watched Mr. McAllister as he tried to make a coffin. There were boards the right length, but he could not nail them because the noise of pounding might attract the rebels. He decided to lay the two bottom boards in the hole, then the sides, then Hector’s body, then the two top boards. Now to get the hole dug. He turned to the Congolese who was watching him and asked in Swahili,
“Would you be able to dig a hole for the white Bwana’s body?”
The Congolese shook his head.
“The rebels have a strong law,” he apologized.
Then he added quietly, “But what we can’t do in the daytime we will try to do at night.”
Just then a motor was heard and all the friendly natives fled. It was not the rebels as we feared, but white mercenaries, led by Al Larson, coming from Stanleyville to deliver us.
We were not able to care for Hector’s bullet-ridden body. For just as the brave negotiations for burial were being made under the very contiguity of the killers, we were rescued.
“You take nothing with you!” barked the leader of the mercenaries.
“No handbags – and only LIVING people.”
I had only taken off Hector’s shoes and removed the blood-stained shirt, when I turned from the dead to care for the wounded. I was still trying to make Ken comfortable when the word came of our deliverance. I took Jean Larson’s house coat from the closet and was putting it on Ken when I looked up surprised to see David Grant. This UFM Canadian missionary who had been interned with his wife Sonia in Stanleyville was now here with Al and the soldiers. David helped me wrap a blanket around Ken’s young frame.
“Have you seen Hector?” I asked David.
“Where is he?” he questioned and I motioned to the bedroom off the hall. He slipped in and looked, and came out with a wonderful expression on his handsome, tired face. I thought afterward that he had the same look of anticipated glory that I had seen on Hector several weeks before he died.
Eight months later David was with Hector in glory, due to open heart surgery performed shortly after he returned to the homeland.
It was David Grant who helped to get Ken to the truck and safely installed in the cab with Muriel Davis and little Beth Ann.
I climbed into the back of the pick-up. The boys were in the Jeep and trailer. As the vehicles moved out on the road toward Stanleyville, I put my head down. Bullets were flying toward and from the cars. One mercenary was wounded, but my thoughts were on the body left behind.
Would the friendly natives bury Hector’s body as they said, at night? Would they really do it? I hoped so.
Then through the numbness which I felt came the remembrance of a statement which Hector himself had made recently.
“Let the worms have it!”
He had said it when I told him about a book I was reading on the life of Adoniram Judson. This was only a few days before.
“Did you know, Hector, that when Adoniram Judson’s wife Ann died, he grieved over her body until he almost went mad. He sat by the grave and worried about what was happening to that precious body.”
I looked at Hector then seriously as I said, “I would never grieve over a loved one like that.”
“No”, and Hector’s brownish-hazel eyes twinkled, “Never take one thought about my old body! Just LET THE WORMS HAVE IT!”
I shuddered when he said it, “Oh, Hector, don’t talk like that!”
But he only chuckled, as though he might rather enjoy putting his nearly six-foot frame at the disposal of a family of worms.
“LET THE WORMS HAVE IT!”
It really didn’t matter to Hector what happened. The rebels might take his life, but he had already counted his life not dear.
As the pick-up jogged along, with bullets flying, I decided that what did happen, though it seemed to matter so much to me, did not matter to Hector. In danger, God held his trembling hand; during the darkness of dread, when he turned toward the house, a living light shone. For loss, ageless treasure would be gained. A young church would stand against the gates of hell. Life would flourish from that grave.
Hector’s legacy was wide spread. He went to Congo as a missionary in 1945 and for 20 years considered himself “a servant of the servant’s of God”. Besides being an evangelist, he was a builder, a “fix-it” man. He travelled from station to station and people always said when anything was broken, “Wait till Hector comes – he’ll fix it.”
Hector went to the Babua Tribe in the Ituri Forest of the Congo, to seek out a “place for the Lord, a habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob,” Psa. 132:5. He found for the Lord a place in all of Bongondza’s indigenous outstations. He carried the Carper’s furniture to a place called Bunga, the spearhead operation of the work among the Babinza Tribe. His Chevy truck stopped at Ekoko, where the Snyders welcomed his mechanical and building ability. He rigged up the electrical lights for Mary Baker and Margaret Hayes at Bopepe. And coming to Banalia, he turned aside to travel an unbelievably bad road to the newest station, Bodela, to help Dennis Parry get his Jeep going. Bangwade, with the Southards in charge, had some jobs that ‘Hector could do’; and then on into Stanleyville he went to replenish supplies. The road to the east was always attractive to Hector as it led past Maganga and his friends the John Artons, and then on to another lap to his schoolmate and best man, Chester Burk, at Boyulu. The Congolese also loved Hector McMillan – for his gentleness, his laughter, his patience in their problems.
Ruthie’s mother covered her when the man came inside with the gun. But Ruth heard the shots and saw Alma go to my two wounded sons. In the confusion of giving first aid and bringing in my husband’s body, Ruthie was forgotten for a short while. And when Alma and Bob thought of her, she could not be found. At first we wondered if the rebels might have taken her. Search was made. She was not in the kitchen; nor in the living room, nor in the bedroom. At last she was found in the bathroom behind the door, down on her little knees with her hands folded. She was praying, “Help, Lord!”
Ruthie McAllister knew what to do in time of trouble. Her faith was simple enough to trust a Known Person to do a promised thing.
Would there be no grave for the body of John Hector McMillan? No grave for any of the 19 UFM martyrs, except Bill Scholten? I pondered this as I traveled, head down, toward the airport.
The mid-day sun penetrated the primeval forest which hung over the rough old Buta road. I hardly felt the heat or the ruts. I lifted my head from my knees and looked at Lois Carper, crouched at my right, and then at Mina Erskine, sitting like myself, with her back against the cab of the pick-up. The Cuban mercenary at her left was wounded in his arm and was struggling to raise his “cartouche” of bullets to another soldier who had run out of ammunition.
I passed my hand in front of Mina and lifted the bullets up to the waiting hand of the man who was firing. This was done several times. The wounded soldier gave me a grateful look. I met him weeks later in Accra, Ghana, at a plane stop, where he told me I was brave. I do not recall feeling very brave, only thankful to be able to do something that was helpful.
I heard Al telling the men not to fire on certain houses where our Christian people lived. Our mission leader was never more greatly admired than when he stood in the truck with those soldiers on the hasty trip to the Stanleyville airport. And loading 24 people into already filled vehicles had not been easy.
While climbing over ammunition and gear, I had gasped at his sharpness and directness. He countered,
“You don’t know what I’ve already gone through today in Stan!”
“Al, are you wounded?” I questioned.
“No, Ione, but….” and he had no time to finish as the bullets were flying to and from the truck.
It was when we arrived at the airport that we heard of Al’s dreadful time when Dr. Paul Carlson was killed. Al climbed over the wall ahead of Dr. Paul and hid a Belgian child and others in a closet until the para-troopers came.
Then when he saw the mercenaries were arriving with vehicles, our field leader made speedy arrangements for our rescue at Kilometer Eight.
We could count on Al to do the right thing and just in time.
The planes which we heard at the headquarters during the earlier hours of the morning were found at noon to be sitting at the airport amidst a hubbub of commotion. It was two-and-one-half hours after Hector was shot that we were rescued by Al Larson and the mercenaries, Cubans from Florida, Anti-Castro men, with an American Major. Twenty-four of us crouched, sat or lay in an open Jeep and trailer and Chevrolet pick-up, amid the soldiers and their guns, during the perilous half-hour ride. For the last three kilometers, past Stanleyville, there was no more shooting.
Safe at the airport, we thanked our rescuers. We were still too stunned to climb out nimbly. And Ken, with blanket dragging pitifully behind him, was trying to walk from the truck.
Al supported him. “Is there no stretcher for this boy?”
His face searched the crowd, and I could see that it hurt him to know that my son was wounded.
A stretcher was found, and in very little time we were all inside one of the planes, a C-130, on our way to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa).
Before I boarded the plane, a Catholic priest thrust into my hands a loaf of bread. Having not one other possession, I accepted the bread gratefully. I took it with me as I sat with my back against the side of the plane. Ken with the bullet still in his hip, lay beside me. Paul, a piece of bullet in his cheek, sat with his brothers and fellow missionaries across the plane, which was crowded. Greeks, Indians, and Belgians were sitting on the floor or lying on stretchers.
I examined the bread, and thought, “This lovely crusty loaf is large enough to feed my six boys.”
But rations were being handed out, and a cup of water was going around. I did not need to divide my bread, so I looked for a wrapper with which to cover it and give it a little dignity. Scarcities at Kilometer Eight had given me a healthy respect for a loaf of bread.
There was nothing at hand with which to cover it, but as I turned my head I saw a plastic sack folded behind me on the wall. I took it out and read its label, “For sickness.” It had not been used, so I unfolded it and put my bread inside.
I tucked my precious loaf of wrapped bread under my arm, and was just beginning to enjoy a feeling of security, when someone shouted, “Stephen’s sick!” So I took out the bread and handed the sack to my son. The unwrapped loaf went back under my arm again.
When we arrived in Leopoldville the bread went with me and Ken into the ambulance and to the hospital and on up to the operating room. The other five boys were with friends at the Union Mission House. Paul didn’t need hospitalization. The bullet (fragment) was taken from his face a few days later. I stayed with Ken, but was not allowed to go into the operating room.
I stood by the door of the emergency operating area, with the bread still under my arm.
I was thinking, “Now if I had a cup of coffee, I would have some of this bread.”
Just then a Flemish lady stepped up to me and said in French,
“Sil vous plait, Madame, would you like a cup of coffee?”
I answered her in my poor French, “Oui, merci beaucoup, Madame, I would like to have a cup of coffee, but I do not wish to go far, for my boy is in this room.”
She assured me that her house was just a short distance down the road, and that she would bring me right back. So I went with her. As we were walking up the steps of her lovely home, she turned to me again.
“And now, Madame, while I am preparing the coffee, you shall have a hot bath.”
I was a bit alarmed at this announcement, and afraid that she would keep me from getting back to Kenneth. Then the thought came to me, “I wonder whatever made this dear lady think that I needed a bath!”
For the first time that day I looked down at myself. I saw that my dress was torn and dirty and there were spots of blood on it.
I agreed to have the bath, and found the lady had put out fresh clothing for me. Even a folded pocket handkerchief! I drank her coffee, and ate some of her bread. Then, picking up my loaf, I went back to the hospital.
I tucked the bread in Ken’s closet, but he didn’t need it, as they provided bread for him in the hospital. He finally gave it to the maid to carry out. “They give us bread here, Mother,“ he explained. We never needed that loaf, but I believe the Lord let me carry it all that while in order to show me that He would never deprive us of our daily bread. Nor has He. — Ione McMillan
Ione McMillan lived long enough to enjoy Paul’s graduation from Grace Seminary with a Master’s Degree of Divinity, his marriage to Linda Hoffman, David’s marriage to Becky Williams, David’s graduation with a BA from Illinois Univ. in Chicago, the birth of her first grandchild, Karen Dawn McMillan, first daughter of David and Becky, and Ken’s graduation from Wayne State Univ. Med. School (see photo at right showing Ione McMillan (L) with her mother Leone Reed and Ken , taken 4 month before Ione’s death).
Ken McMillan Family with (Front Row L-R) Ken and his wife, Ginny and (Back Row L-R) daughter Jane and son Tommy.
I should quickly send a personal note of praise and gratitude to the Cuban “Low Beam” team that rescued me along with the other 24 at Kilometer 8 on November 24.
The oldest of the “McMillan boys,” I was17 years old at the time and well remember some details. I was wounded by a Simba soldier seconds before they shot my father, Hector McMillan, at about 8am. A bullet from a pistol hit me in my seat (left buttock, to be exact) and was found later to be lodged in my pelvis. One of the missionary nurses, Alma McAllister, tried to get the bullet out with a razor blade while we were waiting for rescue, but it was too deep. Even an operation later that night in Leopoldville (Kinshasa) failed to remove it. It is still in my pelvis.
I remember being put into the cab of the pickup (the other vehicle was a Jeep, I think, and one of them had a trailer,) but I had to keep my head down below the window as our rescuers blazed their way back to Stanleyville. So I didn’t witness the pig-shooting brother Paul tells about.
Would I have died without the rescue? I can’t say what would have happened with ongoing bleeding and infection had we not been rescued, but we certainly would have been at risk of being “finished off” by rebels still lurking around Km 8.
Thanks, fervent Cuban (exiled) brothers and sisters, for your courage and passion and prayers during those dangerous days! God certainly used you to perform many miracles that day.
I will send another email to John with what I know of others in the Km 8 missionary party.
For now, I can summarize my own family facts by saying that I ended up in Congo in 1982 as a surgeon, met and married Ginny Stone from Minneapolis, worked a busy 15 years at a rural northeastern Congo hospital called Rethy, then evacuated with my family in December 1996 at the first Kabila rebellion. We live in Minneapolis now, and work in health ministry with Native American homeless people, and in health coaching of church members in crisis. I have been back to Kisangani and Kilometer 8 almost every year since 1996, and can report amazing healing, progress and church growth in all the locations where Congolese and missionaries perished in the bloody 1964-65 Simba Rebellion.
Kilometer 8 is now called Paroisse MacMillan, and has a chapel, a health center, and a primary school built recently in memory of the death of Hector McMillan. This little village serves 5000 rural inhabitants in the surrounding Ituri forest. See photos (below) and an aerial view in 2011.
Sorry I can’t be at the momentous reunion on September 29, Janet. I will be back in Congo that weekend celebrating with Congolese Christians in the dedication of a large new church building at Banalia, where 1964 mercenary rescuers arrived too late, and 11 UFM missionary friends were speared and thrown into the Aruwimi River.
So, the saga continues. As associate members of CrossWorld, Ginny and I are commited to daily prayer and frequent communicaton and occasional aid projects to benefit the Congolese people. Our family photo is attached, with daughter Jane and son Thomas (Tommy).
Many thanks, Janet, for your liason work. Have a wonderful reunion to the praise of our eternal Savior, Jesus Christ! – Ken
Under Ken’s guidance and assistance, the locals have transformed the KM 8 site that was virtually destroyed and have built a memorial chapel (upper left), a health center (upper right), and a primary school (below).
The memorial chapel, whose front wall contains 6 windows, one for each of Hector’s sons, was designed by Ken and John McMillan.
The health center sits on the same foundation and walls of the old KM 8 main building.
The road on the left in the aerial photo is the road leading to Kisangani.
After the “64 rebellion and rescue, Paul finished his high school in Pontiac, MI, studied for three years at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, two years at LeTourneau College in Texas, and three years at Grace Seminary in Indiana. He met Linda while he was studying at Grace Seminary, and she was getting her teaching degree at Grace College, at the same location. They were married in 1976 in Eugene, OR, and lived for a year in Gooding, ID.
They had planned to go back to the Congo as missionaries in 1978, but there was still some unrest, and the national church in that part of Congo was not prepared to receive new missionaries. God opened the door for them to study Spanish in Texas and then go to where they now serve the Lord, in the Dominican Republic. They began working in a Bible Institute helping to train young men and women for church work; then they worked in a Dominican church, Paul as one of the pastors and Linda helping with the Sunday School organization. For the last 18 or so years they have been helping to direct a Christian school, now composed of some 320 students, K-12 grade. Paul is pasturing a small church here and Linda is teaching English classes to young adults in the afternoons. They also have a dairy goat farm, to provide goat’s milk for their family, and a French cheese factory. They have provided goat’s milk for children who are intolerant to cow’s milk.
God has blessed them with three lovely daughters, all born here. As the picture shows, their twin daughters, Kathryn and Sandra have children; Kathryn now has three sons and one daughter, and Sandra has a son and a daughter. Carol their third daughter, has a home in Charlotte, NC, where Sandra and her two children live with Carol. Kathryn and her husband are presently living with Paul and Linda in the Dominican Republic.
Dave & Becky McMillan and family
Dave McMillan and extended family
For the past 10 years Becky and I have been on the staff of a Camp/Church in a rural African American community 60 miles south of Chicago. I am the pastor of the church and we have children’s Bible clubs during the school year and hold camps during the summer.
John McMillan and Mary Manning
After graduating from RVA in Kenya and attending college for a couple years, John lived and worked in Alaska in the commercial fishing and oilfield industries with winter trips to Kenya and Congo mixed in, One such trip involved research on sport fishing in central Africa which resulted in his writing and illustrating a section entitled, The Ultimate Fishing Safari, in Jane & Leah Taylor’s, Fielding’s African Safaris, published by William Morrow & Co. in 1987.
John moved to Seattle in 1990 to continue his graphic art and design business. He then obtained an Industrial Design Technology degree from the Art Institute of Seattle, and met Mary while bird watching in Seattle. We have lived in Gig Harbor, a small waterfront town south of Seattle, for 15 years where John runs his business manufacturing and selling a proprietary quick release mechanism (www.seacatch.com) and is involved with local historical maritime preservation projects. Mary is a professional violinist and teaches private lessons at her studio at home.
At the time John heard from Janet Ray, he had almost completed the transcription of letters and writings of Ione McMillan, his mother that had been preserved by various family members. Ione’s life story of almost 30 years of mission work in Congo, which includes the turmoil in Stanleyville and the death of Hector, her husband and the boy’s father at KM 8, has been and will continue to be an inspiration to many who were privileged to know her and hear about her.
Needless to say, it was a delight to find out from Janet Ray in Miami about the Cuban exiles responsible for our rescue at KM 8 near Stanleyville. I wish to thank all of you for your bravery for without your efforts, we may not have survived.
I trust this document will be accepted as a token of our gratitude, and will be a blessing to you all for years to come.
Steve McMillan and family
Steve returned to Congo as a single missionary in 1980 working at Rethy station near Bunia. Melinda came out as a medical worker to Nyankunde medical center. We met at Rethy and were married in NC in 1987. So we were in Congo as a family from 1987 until 1996 when war broke out between Mobutu and Kabila. We were forced to evacuate with 150 other missionaries losing everything we owned but no lives were lost. We resettled in Kenya and we have been here since 1996. We are working in Kenya at a large missionary kid school at Kijabe We have made a couple trips back to Congo but so far it is too unstable to work there as a family. Now with this news surfacing of the Cubans who rescued the McMillan family, we are totally amazed and really appreciate any news that fills in a lot of holes we have of those days in 1964.
Steve & Melinda McMillan, with Michelle (now finished college looking for a job it NC), Rachel is a Junior in college in NC, Suzanne is a senior here at Rift Valley Academy and Daniel is in 9th grade here at RVA.
Tim retired from a career as an Air Traffic Controller at Washington Center six years ago but is working as a part-time instructor training new controllers.
Judy is an Attendance Secretary for the Public School system. She will be terminating that position in November to provide daycare for our granddaughter, Lilly.
We live in Williamsport, MD. Bethany teaches high school science. She married Matt Hambrick three years ago and gave birth to our first grandchild, Lilly, in June. Matt Hambrick is a train engineer for the CSX Company. They live nearby in Hedgesville, W.V. Jason teaches high school mathematics, and enjoys coaching girls soccer and mixed tennis. He lives nearby as well in Hagerstown, MD.
The events of November 24th, 1964, will always be etched in my mind because of the significant changes it brought into my life as well as the lives of all those at Kilometer 8. Reviewing them in the light of connecting with our Cuban rescuers has served to also acknowledge the leadership role you played, not only in bringing the Cuban rescue team to us, but in your gifted leadership of the UFM Congo missionaries.
Ten year-old boys are quite impressionable and the qualities you showed as Field Director have become my intuitive standard of leadership. Thank you for your guidance during those very difficult days as well as the adjustment for our family in the months and years to follow. But its more than just leadership, each one of the McMillan sons have been blessed with confidence and creativity because of men like you participating in the role of our father.
Thank you so much,
Tim’s Memories of Km.8:
As a ten year-old boy, the events of November 24, 1964, were, quite naturally, traumatic. The morning quiet was broken with the sound of aircraft flying over Stanleyville, and we could occasionally see them from a distance. Just hearing the airplanes, we knew it would be an unusual day – no aircraft had been heard for months.
The adults attempted to keep things as normal as possible. Breakfast was around 8 am and those of us assigned with clean-up duties began those chores. Shortly after that, a group of Simba rebels arrived, ordered us to stop the generator for electricity, and forced all of us to line up outside. Thinking we were probably going to get shot, I remember planning to fall down before the bullets came and pretending to be dead.
Instead, however, the women and children were told to return to the main house and sit in the living room. The rebels searched the house, confiscated a short-wave radio, and just before leaving the room, fired four times into our group. We all tried to get down on the floor as we had been told if there was any shooting. Although I didn’t hear the shooting outside at that time, my dad and Bob McAllister were shot at as well, killing my dad.
We heard the rebels leave and soon discovered Ken and Paul had been injured. About 15 minutes later, some women went out to check on the men, finding Bob McAllister slightly injured and my father, dead. They carried my dad into the house and placed him on a bed. Mother wanted to assure us of God’s care in spite of this event and she talked with all of us about being proud of her husband’s faithfulness to God.
After some time had passed, it was thought we would likely not be rescued by the other men held in town – and actually we were not certain if they were still alive at all. Some from our group decided to start walking back into the jungle for safety. I stayed in the house but selected a back room to hide in if we had another rebel visit.
Soon after, we heard some shooting that appeared to be getting closer and everyone got down below the window level. Cars drove into the compound and after they stopped near the house, we heard a voice shouting at us in English. It was Al Larson, with a group of soldiers. The jungle group was soon called back and we were told to climb into the two vehicles. I had brought my little suitcase that was packed in case of a rescue but was told to leave it on the steps.
The trip into Stanleyville was rather a blur. We were told to keep our heads down and there was a lot of shooting. I do remember getting a couple of hot shell casings hitting the back of my neck as well as dirt being thrown up by the bullets hitting the nearby bank.
As we approached the safety of Stanleyville, we were told we could raise up our heads. It was quickly rescinded, however, when someone realized there were quite a few dead bodies along the streets from the fighting earlier that morning. We were taken to the airport and dropped off, joining hundreds of other expatriates waiting to be evacuated to Leopoldville, the Capital.
Our rescuers left, like God-sent angels, disappearing into the confusion around us. It never occurred to me we would ever see them again, but God has mysterious ways of accomplishing unusual connections, using the gifts of compassionate people. I am so grateful for their courage to risk their lives when it wasn’t required and to follow the direction of an American missionary five miles into the jungle, not knowing if their attempt would even be worthwhile. And this unique event – meeting with our Rescuers in Miami – has been accomplished by the dedication of one person putting the links together. Thank you, Janet.
“I am working for the West Virginia National Guard as a crew chief on the C-5 airplane. Flying troops and supplies all over the world to areas that need our support…I have the great job of keeping the airplanes maintained and ready for the next mission. At times I am required to travel with the airplane to maintain the airplane at stops that might not have qualified maintainers at a forward operating base and therefore need my attention to the aircraft for fueling, oxygen servicing, and maintaining other issues that may arise from the previous flight into those locations.
I am actually a civilian technician in Martinsburg WV that works for the federal government doing this job as well as a military member doing this overseas. In other words I maintain the C-5 as a civil service technician and when I have to go out of the country with the airplane I have to go as a military Air Force Member.
Download KM8 Survivors Thank You Letter