Friday, February 27, 2015

2/27/1945 Tony Hillerman gets a million-dollar wound

February 27, 1945.  On this date Tony Hillerman was an infantryman fighting his way through Alsace-Lorraine.  During a raid on the village of Niefern he stepped on a landmine.  Comrades carried him away under fire on a stretcher - until one stepped on another mine.  A second lifted him in a fireman's carry, then dropped him into a cold stream.

He made it out, losing one eye and part of one foot.  Nonetheless he considered it a lucky "million dollar wound," getting him out of combat while still alive.  In his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, Hillerman sees the injury as part of a long set of circumstances and coincidences that gets him to the right place at the right time: namely the New Mexico desert just as a group of Navajo cross the road during an Enemy Way ceremony for a returning soldier.  The fascination with what he saw leads to a lifelong interest and a career writing about fictional Navajo police officers.


  1. Most people would have just seen a Navajo ceremony. he had a Writer's vision and we're all better off for it.