Reaching Beyond the Waves

The Inspirational Story of One Teacher's Sixth Grade Students' Search for the WWII Survivors of a Downed B-17

In October 1942, a B-17 carrying a crew and passengers, including famed WWI Ace and Medal of Honor recipient Eddie Rickenbacker, was forced to ditch in the Pacific Ocean. While floating aimlessly for three weeks on life rafts, the men battled sharks, blistering sun, and the lack of fresh food and water before being rescued. All but one survived.

More than forty years later, sixth grade teacher Suzanne Kelly read to her students a book written by the plane's co-pilot. They were enthralled and asked the question, "What happened to the men?"

REACHING BEYOND THE WAVES tells the story of how Suzanne and her sixth graders searched for—and found—the survivors, the men who rescued them, and others involved with this historic event. From declassified military reports and correspondence with the Army Air Corps, Marine, and Navy men involved, she shares how she and her students located people and information, and the multitude of discoveries they made through their investigations. It is an inspirational tale of facts and friendships, of reaching out and building relationships around the world.

Suzanne Zobrist Kelly

Suzanne Zobrist Kelly received a BS degree from Iowa State University, with teaching licenses in both secondary and elementary education.  As part of her graduate work at Purdue University, where she earned an MS degree in Early Childhood Education, she wrote and hosted a public television series, “Pathways of Childhood,” produced by the university’s telecommunications department. Suzanne went on to teach fifth and sixth grade for forty-two years, receiving several state and national awards, including the Catalyst Award and The Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching. Reaching Beyond the Waves is her first adult, non-fiction book. Suzanne's hobby is designing and sewing fashion doll apparel, which she donates to groups and organizations. She and her husband currently live in Ames, Iowa.

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