Victor D. Solow,
author of "I Died at 10:52 AM"

Readers Digest, October 1974, reprinted here:

Biographical details

Article source: Daily News, Bowling Green, Kentucky. Sunday, May 26, 1974

Link at Google News is dated 5/24/1974

Scroll down for text of the article.

Victor D. Solow, photo 1974 Victor Solow news story May 24, 1974

Text of article:

Brought back to life

VICTOR SOLOW, 56, producer of documentary films, gestures in his Mamaroneck home Friday as he talks of his experience of being dead for 23 minutes after suffering a heart attack. At 10:52 a.m. on March 23 he collapsed of a heart attack while driving his car. For the next 23 minutes until 11:13 a.m. when his body was jolted by electric shocks at Unlted Hospital in Port Chester. N.Y., Solow had no measurable pulse, no heart activity and no vital signs.



'I've been there, and come back,' 56-year-old film producer recounts

Victor Solow was speaking of death. For 23 minutes after suffering a heart attack, Solow was dead.

The 56-year-old producer of documentary films liked to boast that he had never been sick a day in his life. Then at 10:52 a.m. on Saturday March 23, he collapsed of a heart attack while driving his car. For the next 23 minutes, until 11:15 a.m. when his body was jolted by electric shocks at United Hospital, Solow had no mensurable pulse, no heart activity, and no vital signs.

In a tape-recordcd story he calls his "Death and Resurrection." Solow has related in his own words his strange experience. The story was published in a four-part series by the 10-member Westchester Rockland Newspapers group.*

* Need to locate this article.

"I was driving and had just stopped for a red light," he recalls.

"Then calmly but with great surprise," picks up his wife. Lucy, "he turned to me and said. 'Oh Lucy. I...' As swiftly as the expiration of a breath, he seemed to settle down in his seat with all his weight," she said.

"Even his head remained almost erect but his eyes opened wide like one utterly astonished about an unexpected, strange transcendence. But I knew instantly he could neither hear nor see me.

"I pulled on the emergency brake and turned off the ignition, incoherently talking and pleading with him to hang on, that he was going to be fine. He uttered not a sound."

Mrs Solow sought help and Frank Colangelo telephoned police from a nearby gasoline station. An officer arrived quickly and began massaging Solow's heart, and this was continued after the arrival of an ambulance manned by five trained volunteers. It took Solow to United, where the staff had been alerted by radio to the emergency.

"The patient was dead by available standards," Dr. Harold Roth recounted. "In other words, there was no measurable pulse, no heart activity, he was not breathing and he appeared to have no vital signs whatever."

A cardiac monitor was put into action. Intravenous medication was begun. Pure oxygen was supplied through a tube. Electric shock was begun, the first at 11:13 a.m.

"It was powerful enough to lift my entire body inches off the operating tabie, an electrocution in reverse," Solow said doctors told him later. "But there was no result. The heart still showed no activity."

A second shock was administered, and at 11:15 a.m. Dr. Roth remembers:

"At this time, examination revealed that the patient's pupils were constricted and narrow, indicating there was a possibility of survival. After the second stock, we began to get evidence of a rhythm on the cardiac monitor.

"The patient was alive and we rapidly began to get increasing movement. He was able to breathe, and we put him under nasal oxygen. From that point, we tended to stabilize him, giving him whatever drugs were required, and monitoring the cardiogram, to make sure the heart wouldn't stop again."

"The crisis was over." Solow wrote. But he added that for the next six days he hung suspended in a state not quite comatose.

[ end of article ]

Hollywood photography

Need to add Hollywood studio information.

[ work in process ]

Below are newspaper articles published in 1952 and 1945 that mention Victor Solow 's wartime service as a photographer

Wartime service

Article 1: To finish:


Ex-CBI Roundup
July 1952 Issue
By Lee Barker

Need to add photos

[ CBI = Chinese Burma India Theater ]

When a CBI photo appears in Roundup or elsewhere, the reader probably glances at it without realizing the danger and rough times the photographer went thru to get the picture Almost all the pictures labeled Signal Corps or U.S. Army Photo can be attributed to the click of a camera belonging to the 164th Signal Photo Company of the CBI Theater. Of course, the other arms had their share of picture-taking, some of which will be covered within these pages.

The 164th attempted to tell the story of the CBI, both social and fighting. The story of the 164th is an important part of that historic theater.

The first echelons of this group reached the CBI in December, 1943. Since then their detachments were in almost every station from Calcutta to Chungking. They had a difficult road to cover as they progressed with the other units from the early Ledo Road to the opening of the Stilweil Highway into Kunming. Some of their roughest times were when they weren't able to take a single exposure. The Japanese, sad to say, were camera shy, and didn't make their showing too often. Bashful to Yank rifle fire, they stayed in their caves, and the camera man could only get a few shots of the unfortunate dead Japs.

Very active in the photo field was T/3 Victor D. Solow, of New York. He was one of the top men in the motion picture branch of the 164th. In fact, he was one of the few Americans who accompanied the Chinese in their drive from the Salween in southwestern Yunnan to the juncture with the forces moving up to the Burma Road from the west. Most of the stories he had to tell have to do with the pictures he didn't get. One time he was very disappointed that he missed some splendid opportunities, but he evidently wasn't there at the right place at the right time. This was particularly true when he was along during operations against the Japs on the Sungshan, which was later dynamited in a destructive mission. Solow sweated out his wait on a neighboring mountain top for four days, trying to get a panoramic film of 14th Air Force P-40's strafing the hidden enemy. This raid would have taken only a few minutes to complete, but each day some circumstances arose to prevent the scheduled mission. On the fourth day he gave up the idea, and as fate would have it, the fighters made their passes on the Japs on the fifth day.

On another photo hunt, Solow eluded his two Chinese companions who had been assigned to keep Solow out of trouble. During this time the Chungking radio was relating the fall of Lungling to the Chinese. Actually the streets were echoing with gunfire, and Solow dived into the middle of it. Result, some of the best pictures of this battle. Alone yet, Solow hit the sack for the night. However, the morning brought a warning that the Jap patrol was somewhere in the neighborhood. He loaded his equipment on his horse, attempting to hurry toward the American camp. He departed just in time, for a machine gun started spraying its bullets uncomfortably close by. He excused his not getting any pictures at that time by stating, "The Allies were making their Normandy invasion at the time, and I couldn't see the advantage of competing with that kind of news."

While Solow was with T/4 George Kocourek of Los Angeles, he was billeted by the Chinese at Tengchung. The weather had been so bad that there were no recent food drops. Their only subsistence had been the Chinese rice ration for five long days. Solow said the change from K-rations was delightfully appetizing at that time.

[ etc ]

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Article 2:
IBT Roundup - June 7, 1945 - China-Burma-India Theater of World War II


Cameraman T/4 Louis Raczkowski rides through the swamps on the back of an elephant in Assam.

The mission of the 164th Signal Photo Company in the India-Burma and China Theaters is measured not only in the amount of celluloid footage taken - which is considerable - but also in the success it realizes in telling through the medium of pictures, the story of the passing parade in East Asia. And the story of the 164th itself is an integral part of each step in that historic parade.

The first echelons of the unit reached the Theater 18 months ago. Now, with detachments stationed in almost every station from Calcutta to Chungking, the credit "Signal Corps Photo" in a Roundup cut line or a U.S. press release from this area usually indicates another click of a 164th camera.

As with every other outfit that operated from early Ledo Road days until the opening of the Stilwell Highway, it's been a rough row to hoe. However, the toughest days, say the men who focus the cameras, have often been when not a single foot of film or a single negative was exposed. The job of taking pictures of Japs - dead or alive - becomes increasingly difficult when the subject fails to co-operate by putting in his appearance. And for many days along the trail or in the mountain vastness, very few if any of the enemy were sighted.

T/3 Victor D. Solow, Moscow-born New Yorker who came to the U.S. in 1936, is one of the top members in the motion picture department of the unit. Solow was one of the few Americans who accompanied the Chinese in their drive from the Salween in southwestern Yunnan down to a junction with the forces moving up to the Burma Road from the west.

Most of the stories Solow has to tell about the campaign concern the pictures he didn't get. He was profoundly disappointed in missed opportunities to be at the right place at the right time. During one stage in the operations against the Japs on Sungshan (later dynamited in a daring mission that sent all the Nips to join their ancestors), Solow sweated it out on a neighboring mountain top for four days waiting to get a panoramic picture of 14th Air Force P-40's strafing the holed-in enemy. The whole deal would have taken a couple of minutes had it come off, but each day something came up to call off the scheduled mission. He gave up in disgust at the end of the fourth day, and, as luck would have it, the tiger-toothed pee-shooters came over on the fifth day to make their passes, which never were recorded for posterity.

On another occasion, Solow eluded his two Chinese "assistants" who were charged with making certain he kept out of trouble. It was during this period the Chungking radio was announcing the fall of Lungling to the Chinese. In reality, there was still a lot of street fighting going on in the town. So he hightailed into the middle of it, and returned with some of the best pictures of the campaign.

Pfc. Victor D. Solow, Signal Corps cameraman, and his assistant, a Chinese soldier, shield Solow 's cameras from the rain somewhere along the Salween.

(Signal Corps Photo).

Still alone, Solow bedded down for the night. But the following morning, warning came that a Jap patrol was somewhere in the neighborhood. He loaded his paraphernalia on his horse and set off for American headquarters. It wasn't a minute too soon, as a machine gun started sputtering, and the dust all around him gave a pretty good indication that the Japs were getting the range. he didn't get any pictures during that escapade because, as he puts it, "The Allies were making their Normandy invasion at the time, and I couldn't see the advantage of competing with that kind of news. Anyway," Solow says, "I had 27 miles of walking ahead of me and all the advantages outweighed the disadvantages."

The current Stateside meat shortage gets no sympathy from Photographer Solow. With T/4 George Kocourek, of Los Angeles, he was with the Chinese at Tengchung, and weather had precluded any recent food drops. Subsisting on the barest of Chinese rice rations for five days, the two Americans found a dog, not alive and kicking, but dead. Necessity overcame natural aversion at this point, and they gathered up some wild tomatoes, cooked the meaty portions of the mongrel for three hours, and turned up with some "very satisfactory stew." In fact, says Solow, the change from K-rations was delightfully appetizing at the time.

T/3 Dan Novak, from Minneapolis was with the Northern Combat Area Command from April of last year until his recent shift to New Delhi. He was with the Chinese from Myitkyina to Lashio and made a full record of the entire operation. He landed upon the Myitkyina strip with the Airborne Engineers, first unit to hit the field in gliders. With the Japs on one end of the strip and the Americans unloading equipment on the other, Novak filmed the story. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his performance under great difficulty.

Novak's outstanding movies, however, were not those for which he received the medal but later pictures at Bhamo. With the Japs entrenched 125 yards away, he photographed the dive-bombing exploits of a flight of P-47's as they made repeated passes at the target. It was comparatively safe, he says, because the target was clearly outlined and the pilots had a good bead.

T/4 Frank W. Shearer, New Kensington, Pa., was Novak's partner for the Bhamo pictures. Shearer photographed the stills, but came out second best on the deal. He decided that he was going to try and get some artillery bursts on the same target, but while maneuvering for position he got nicked with a .70mm "whiz-bang" shell. The high velocity bullet just grazed him, however. Wearing a Purple Heart he was soon out of the hospital and back with the "click-corps."

Shearer was with Lt. Gen. Dan I. Sultan at Lashio when a Jap artillery shell landed 30 yards from their jeep. As on many another occasion, no pictures were photographed here - with the task of getting out of range being more important at the moment.

Two other Purple Hearts were awarded to members of the 164th. T/5 Milt Koff, Hawthorne, Calif., was with Merrill's Marauders at Nhpum Ga, where he was wounded, and Pvt. Tommy Amer, Los Angeles, favorite of generals and celebrities who found their way to the Burma jungles, suffered a burned finger as the result of enemy action.

Other Bronze Stars were awarded to T/4 Charles Zimmerman, Los Angeles, and Pfc. Don Pringle, Everett, Wash. Pringle knocked out a Jap machine gun nest at Bhamo (in addition to his other duties) and killed three Nips. Zimmerman accompanied an early survey trip on foot over The Hump to China. T/4 Louis J. Raczkowski, Syracuse, N.Y., also received the Bronze Star for his action artillery pictures at Bhamo.

One Air Medal has been awarded to a member of the unit. T/4 William Safran received the citation for his work during the initial glider operation at the Myitkyina landing.

T/3 William Brown, Los Angeles, is one of the old timers of the outfit. He's been up in the weeds almost as long as the weeds, according to his compatriots of the rear echelon. It fell to Brown to make the first pictures of a tank operation in Burma at Shadazup last year. The tank in which he rode got into trouble, however, and fell over on it's side in the line of fire from both sides. The crew slipped out the escape hatch and made their way back to the American lines without injury.

Pfc. Tom Fanning, Wichita, Kans., tells the outfit's favorite story. He received considerable publicity last year in the Roundup for "capturing" three Japs in Burma. The story, as it appeared, chronicled that Fanning had been in a tree taking some pictures of a particular road. He had left his carbine at the foot of the tree. As he went about his work, three bedraggled figures appeared on the road below and, thinking they were Chinese, he yelled for them to get out of range of the camera - they were in the way. However, they came on, and he soon discovered that they were Japs who wanted to give themselves up. So "with his camera," said the story, "he captured the three Japanese."

Actually, Fanning was sound asleep in his hammock one dark night when he felt a tap on his shoulder. He awoke to find three starving, sickly Japs who were following instructions given in American propaganda leaflets. They wanted to give themselves up in exchange for food and medicine. Fanning, without further ado, turned the three over to the MP's and rolled over to sleep again.

Capt. Herbert Reed of Atlanta, Ga., is the 164th's rear echelon big stick, and Capt. Dave Burman, Cleveland, O., is the man responsible for the men in the field.

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The Roundup is a weekly newspaper of the United States Forces, published by and for the men in Burma and India, from news and pictures supplied by staff members, soldier correspondents, Army News Service and United Press.  The Roundup is published Thursday of each week and is printed by The Statesman in New Delhi and Calcutta, India.  Editorial matter should be sent directly to Capt. Floyd Walter, Hq., U.S.F., I.B.T., APO 885, New York, N.Y. and should arrive not later than Saturday in order to be included in that week's issue.  Pictures must arrive by Friday and must be negatives or enlargements.  Stories should contain full name and organization of sender.  Complaints about circulation should be sent directly to Lt. Drexel Nixon, Base Section, APO 465, New York, N.Y.  Units on the mailing list should make notification of any major change in personnel strength or any change of APO.

JUNE  7,  1945  

Adapted from the original issue of India-Burma Theater Roundup shared by Linda James

Copyright © 2009 Carl Warren Weidenburner

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