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Legendary DePauw Story Recounted in New Book

December 5, 2001

December 5, 2001, Greencastle, Ind. - Alex Vraciu, a 1941 graduate of DePauw University pulled a prank during his school days that has been talked about for years, and is now documented in a new book. Fly Navy: Naval Aviators and Carrier Aviation, A History is authored by Philip Kaplan. In the book, beginning on page 77, is a long presentation about Vraciu, who ended World War II as the U.S. Navy's fourth highest ranking ace pilot, and whose sense of daring was evident while a student at DePauw.

The book tells the story of when Alex Vraciu created DePauw campus lore when, in the middle of a psychology class he jumped out of a second story window of Harrison Hall, to the horror of his classmates. They were laughing, along with Vraciu, moments later when they looked down to the ground. His fraternity brothers had been waiting below with a tarp, in which he landed safely.

Alex Vraciu went on to become a Navy legend (photo at right courtesy of U.S. Navy). During one air battle over the Pacific, Vraciu shot down six enemy planes in just eight minutes. In his career, the ace shot down 19 enemy aircraft, plus 21 more on the ground. During the war years, Vraciu was forced to bail out of his plane twice. Author Kaplan jokingly suggests that Vraciu's leap from Harrison Hall prepared him for those moments in mid-air.

A recipient of the Navy Cross, Alex Vraciu now lives in Danville, California.

You can learn more about the book at Amazon.com by clicking here.

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