Two Coal Miners Trapped 300 + hrs.
Coal miners David Fellin, left, then 58, and Henry "Hank" Throne, then 28, freshly shaven and wearing pajamas, shake hands in the hospital shortly after their miraculous rescue on Aug. 27, 1963. They had been entombed for 14 days.
**Copyright (c) 1990 Ed Conrad
This excerpt was retrieved from Ed Conrad.com And if you find this interesting, please visit his site.**
Conclusive evidence of life after death actually has been available for more than a quarter-century.
This opinion is shared by two of the world's foremost authorities on death and dying, Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and Dr. Bruce Greyson. They agree that the proof had been provided by a pair of Pennsylvania coal miners who, back in 1963, revealed that Pope John XXIII had appeared to both of them at the same time during their 14-day entombment following an underground cave-in near Hazleton, Pa.
Pope John died in a hospital in Rome, Italy, on June 3, 1963, some 10 weeks before the cave-in.
David Fellin, one of the miners, personally had told Dr. Kubler-Ross about the appearance of the deceased pontiff and provided details of other mysterious, supernatural experiences which he, then 58, and Henry ``Hank" Throne, then 28, had shared while cut off from the rest of the world during the first five days of their grueling ordeal.
Among the remarkable things Fellin had told Dr. Kubler-Ross during a day-long conversation in her home in Headwaters, Va., were the two separate occasions that he insisted he and Throne had been out of their physical bodies at the same time, during which they actually had engaged in conversation.
Dr. Kubler-Ross, the internationally acclaimed author of numerous books on death and dying, said she believed Fellin and stated that the miners' miraculous rescue, the appearance of the deceased pope and the out-of-body experiences shared by two persons at the same time -- never before documented -- is ``the evidence . . . that life does not end when our physical body dies."
Dr. Greyson, then a psychiatrist at the University of Connecticut Health Center and an official of The International Association for Near-death Studies, had become acquainted with the incredible details of the supernatural events connected with the cave-in only in the last year of Fellin's life but had found them fascinating.
``I am most intrigued by the simultaneous experiences of David Fellin and Hank Throne, who apparently conversed while out of their bodies," he stated. ``If they can corroborate each other's accounts, they could provide evidence for the reality of `The Other Side' beyond anything yet available."
When making that statement, Dr. Greyson, then the editor of The Journal of Near-Death Studies, hadn't been aware that such corroboration actually had taken place soon after Fellin and Throne had been dramatically rescued.
After being pulled to the surface through a 17 1/2-inch bore hole on Aug. 27, 1963, the two miners had been interviewed individually, then together, by a pair of psychiatrists and a third staff member from the Institute of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
These intriguing interviews, the subject of an article in the American Journal of Psychiatry, offered the evidence that both men undoubtedly had been mutual participants in a series of mysterious, supernatural events, including the appearance of the late pontiff, and their joint out-of-body experiences.
The Journal article stated that ``neither man exhibited evidence of psychosis or marked mental abnormality when examined,'' yet dismissed their similar experiences as ``fantasies" and ``hallucinations." The authors felt they had been caused by the miners' life-threatening situation when entombed.
This was their conclusion even through both men independently had described a variety of similar unexplained occurrences underground. They had mentioned, among other things, that their darkened chamber suddenly was illuminated with a bluish light; the deceased pontiff appearing to them; and seeing a large number of men who were neither miners nor members of the rescue party.
Fellin also revealed that, shortly after being rescued, he had been interviewed for more than seven hours by the U.S. Navy Survival Team headed by Lt. Richard Anderson, a medical doctor and psychiatrist.
Fellin said the day after his interview, Lt. Anderson visited his hospital room and told him he was absolutely certain his experiences were factual because Throne also had been interviewed for several hours -- something Fellin hadn't even been aware of -- and their two stories had meshed perfectly.
``Dr. Anderson told me that our story MUST be true because it would be impossible for two people to concoct a story that would stand up so well during such lengthy interviews," said Fellin. "In fact, he told me if the President (Kennedy) or the pope (Pope Paul VI, who succeeded Pope John XXIII) would say our story wasn't true, I shouldn't argue with them but simply walk away because he KNOWS it's true."
It should be noted that all attempts to obtain a copy of Fellin's taped interview or a transcript from the U.S. Navy in recent years has been unsuccessful. In fact, Navy officials first denied knowledge of Lt. Anderson but later -- in response to a request for information by a U.S. Congressman -- admitted that he had resigned from the Navy in 1964, the year following the cave-in and rescue..
Dr. Kubler-Ross said Fellin's revelations are ``obviously true'' and emphasized that she is convinced that Pope John XXIII had much to do with their survival. ``From the moment of the late pope's appearance until they were moved out of the drillholes, he illuminated their cave with a bluish light radiating from him," she stated.
Dr. Kubler-Ross also was greatly impressed by the manner in which the two miners had survived the first five days following the cave-in, calling it ``a guideline for our miners, soldiers, mountain climbers and all those at risk to face a similar ordeal one day." She referred to their battle to stay alive as ``a story of faith, courage, and mutual care and respect . . ."
Concerning Fellin's claims of having shared two out-of-body trips with Throne at his side, Dr. Kubler-Ross said she is certain they indeed had taken place, calling them ``very real, as I am happy to witness from my own life experiences."
Throne actually was the first to reveal the supernatural experiences after being rescued, even though Fellin emphatically had warned him not to do so. He said, just before Throne had been hauled to the surface, he had grabbed him by the shirt and told him he'd better not say a word about them because ``If you do, right away they'll say you're nuts."
Throne failed to heed the advice and, in fact, had told several nurses and attendants at Hazleton State General Hospital about a few of the mysterious occurrences soon after being flown there in a U.S. Navy helicopter.
Throne also mentioned some of these mysterious events during an exclusive interview he had granted to The Associated Press which had appeared in newspapers worldwide. Fellin also had been interviewed by the AP, during which he corroborated some of the things his companion had related.
Commented Throne while being interviewed by AP:
``There were times we saw people who weren't there and lights that weren't there and doors that weren't there. Imagine seeing a regular house door down in the bottom of a mine. I'd sleep! I'd wake up. I'd see all kinds of lights and the actual figures of people. They now tell me these were hallucinations but the crazy thing is that Davey would see the things the same as I did."
Commented Fellin during his interview:
``Now they're trying to tell me those things were hallucinations, that we imagined it all. We didn't! Our minds weren't playing tricks on us. I've been a practical hard-headed miner all my life. My mind was clear down there in the mine. These things happened! I can't explain them. I'm almost afraid to think what might be the explanation."
Fellin said just after granting these interviews to the wire service, psychiatrists and psychologists began inferring that Throne, whose interview was published first, temporarily had lost his sanity inside the mine. This undoubtedly explains why Throne, who is still living, had been reluctant to discuss these experiences after freely talking about them in the first few days following his rescue.
Fellin decided to say nothing further about them for years because he said he had become extremely angry that his companion's sanity had been seriously questioned. ``If they wouldn't believe Hank (back in 1963), they sure as hell wouldn't have believed me," said Fellin.
However, over the past five years before his death, Fellin had left numerous notarized letters and taped conversations -- both audio and video -- in which he vividly detailed a number of supernatural events in which he insisted he had participated.
Fellin said he was absolutely certain he and Throne had been out of their physical bodies because, the first time it happened, they suddenly found themselves STANDING some 40-50 feet from the refuge area with a crowd of normal-looking men on both sides of them. He said he then looked over his shoulder and saw him and Throne still SITTING back in the enclosure. Fellin said he needed additional proof that it wasn't a dream or a hallucination, therefore extended his right hand in front of one of the men standing next to him to see if it would cast a shadow, which it did.
``That's when I knew for sure I wasn't going crazy," said Fellin. ``If that hadn't happened, I never would've mentioned a word about the strange things which had taken place."
Due to Fellin's age and very poor eyesight, the letters had been written on his behalf by veteran newsman Ed Conrad of the Hazleton Standard-Speaker, who had met the longtime miner for the very first time a week before his 80th birthday at the wake of a mutual friend.
Conrad had been greatly impressed with Fellin's almost total recall of events concerning the cave-in and rescue and also was impressed with his intelligence and tremendous humility. When Fellin revealed some of the strange events which had transpired while he and Throne were entombed, Conrad pursued the role of an investigative reporter.
Fellin's letters had been based strictly on what he had told Conrad during their conversations, the vast majority of which had been taped. Each letter had been read to Fellin, who signed it and had it notarized only after it had met his complete satisfaction as being totally accurate.
Conrad also arranged for Fellin to take a polygraph concerning his revelations about the validity of his experiences and he emphatically agreed to do so.
One question asked of Fellin was: ``After your chamber suddenly lit up with a mysterious bluish light, did you and Hank see Pope John XXIII, then Hank asked you `Who's that fella?' " He answered ``Yes."
Fellin also was asked: ``When you and Hank were out of your enclosure for the first time, did you find yourself walking among a large crowd and then look back and see you and Hank still sitting in the chamber? He answered ``Yes."
The certified polygraphist who had administered the test had stated in writing that the answer to both questions had revealed ``no reactions indicative of deception."
In one of his letters, Fellin testified that when it was apparent that neither he nor Throne would get out of the mine alive, he had gotten angry with God and said a ``prayer'' in which he had demanded that the Creator at least have the decency to let him know what evil he had done in his lifetime that he was being forced to die ``a thousand deaths'' while facing mental and physical torture inside the mine.
He said a short while later, what appeared to be three tiny bluish fireflies suddenly appeared in the total darkness, began expanding and soon filled the entire chamber with a bluish light.
Fellin testified that the bluish light, which cast no shadow, had provided perfect visibility. He also said the small enclosure where they had been trapped expanded, enabling them to move around.
Fellin further testified that, when the bluish light enabled them to see, he noticed Pope John XXIII at an elevation in the distance, visible only from the waist up.
He said the pontiff, who was 81 when he died, appeared to be about half that age, his arms were folded in front of him and he was grinning at them.
Fellin said Pope John, who had been elected the Catholic church's 262nd pontiff in 1958, was wearing a black cassock ``like that of a poor parish priest.
``It wasn't a vision and it wasn't a picture," he remarked. ``It was him: Pope John! I'd have recognized him anywhere."
Fellin said he hoped Throne wouldn't see the pope -- fearing Hank would go berserk if he realized a dead man was with them -- but the younger man definitely saw him because he had pointed at the pontiff and excitedly asked: ``Who's that fella?"
Fellin also testified that Pope John remained with him and Throne right up to the time they were hauled to the surface (a week later) wearing parachute harnesses and football helmets while newspapermen from around the world were assembled at the mine site.
Pope John, one of 13 children of an Italian sharecropper, was admired for his tremendous humility. In his first appearance to a huge crowd assembled in the Vatican courtyard following his election, he came out wearing only a cassock and surplice to the great surprise of the huge crowd and the utter shock of church hierarchy.
Fellin, during the last years of his life, insisted he had made numerous incredible journeys to ``The Other Side" of death.
``I was shown `The Other World'," he stated. ``This is NOT the real world. We have to earn our place in the real world. I KNOW because I made the whole trip."
Fellin, interestingly, said a multitude of persons who have come close to death and later insisted they had traveled through ``a tunnel of light" are mistaken.
``This is because they're unknowledgeable about tunnels," he explained. ``I spent more than 50 years working inside tunnels in the mines and even helped build many of them, so I should know a lot about tunnels -- and I do!
``These people didn't travel throught a tunnel. Actually, there's an umbrella of light over their head and it moves along with them as they move along in the darkness."
Much of what Fellin had seen and experienced during his journeys to ``The Other Side" is detailed in additional notarized letters.
It should be noted that, during their second joint out-of-body journey, Fellin and Throne had come across beautiful marble doors which were open and revealed stairs. Throne told Fellin they should walk up the stairs because they would lead to the surface and safety. However, when Throne was in the process of taking his very first step toward the doors, they suddenly closed and he became extremely angry, threatening to break down the doors. When he did, he and Fellin were returned to their physical bodies.
Following that incident, Throne made no additional out-of-body trips, although Fellin insisted he made many, many others past the marble doors.
Among Fellin's most remarkable revelations were journeys he insisted he had taken back in time which had afforded him an opportunity to witness monumental events of history as they actually occurred.
He testified, for example, that he had watched the construction of the pyramids in Egypt and had been aboard Christopher Columbus' ship -- unseen by Columbus and his crew -- during his journey to discover America. As for the time-honored question of how the pyramids were built, Fellin said, based on what he had observed, it was nowhere near the gargantuan task as is generally theorized. He emphasized that it did not require thousands of men working for hundreds of years because not a single multi-ton rock had to be hauled to the site from a great distance.
Meanwhile, Fellin said Columbus -- whom he described as having yellow hair and a red beard -- was Tyrolean, not Italian, and that the secret of his success was simply because he had mastered the use of the compass. The compass assured Columbus that, if he didn't reach land by the time half of the crew's food supply was depleted, he'd simply turn his vessel around and head in the opposite direction to make it back to his home port.
Fellin told Conrad that he had learned that Columbus' real name wasn't even Columbus.
``He was called Columbo, which is Latin for pigeon, but it was only his nickname," he explained. ``Columbus had earned the nickname by sailing to points unknown and always returning safely. So people around the docks started calling him Columbo -- meaning that he was a homing pigeon that always returned to its nest.
"Of course, they didn't realize Columbus was using the compass -- a very large compass which was right in the middle of his very small cabin -- to earn his reputation as an excellent seaman. Back then, the compass had been regarded as nothing more than a child's toy, not as a navigating instrument."
Explicit details of Fellin's out-of-body journeys which enabled to watch the pyramids being built as well as to observe Columbus during his trip across the Atlantic to discover America in 1492 are revealed in several of his notarized letters.
The mine rescue operation, unprecedented in the annals of mining anywhere in the world, had become a top news story only after contact had been made with Fellin and Throne who had been given up for dead.
The two miners had been discovered to be alive after a six-inch bore hole had been drilled into the earth in a million-to-one shot. The objective had been to reach an area where three men who had been inside Oneida No. 2 mine might have found shelter if, indeed, they hadn't perished in the cave-in.
"MINE MIRACLE," headlined the Los Angeles Times in its edition of Monday, Aug. 19 (1963), although erroneously reporting that all three miners -- including Louis Bova, 54 -- were alive.
The rather incredible news that two of the men were still alive after five days underground was major news and remained so until their rescue.
Mining officials, engineers and men who had worked inside that particular mine had helped determine the placement of a stake at the most probable location where the original bore hole should penetrate the earth a distance of more than 300 feet.
Only in the last years of his life did Fellin learn that the bull's-eye hole, which had enabled contact with the outside world, hadn't even been drilled at the original stake.
One of the men in charge of the rescue operation had admitted in a newspaper article on the fifth anniversary of the cave-in that the heavy rig containing the drill, which had been driven to the mine site from a distance of many miles, actually had experienced mechanical failure some 20-30 feet from the stake.
It was then decided, since the unprecedented attempt to reach the men through a bore hole bordered on the impossible, that drilling be done precisely where the truck had broken down.
Once contact had been made with Fellin and Throne, the only hope of rescuing them was to drill a much larger bore hole, through which the men could be pulled to the surface. The bit used to drill the 17 1/2-inch-wide hole, through which they eventually were hauled to the surface, had been flown to the site free of charge by one of billionaire Howard Hughes' drilling companies in Texas.
Bova died as a result of the cave-in in the mine located only a half-mile from Fellin's home and his body was never recovered. A tombstone had been erected above the area where the cave-in had occurred.
Fellin and Throne, who had been underground a total of 329 hours and 17 minutes, had received a telegram from President Kennedy, who would be assassinated in Dallas less than three months later.
``Congratulations," JFK had wired them. ``The stamina, courage and spirit which you and your rescuers have exhibited in recent days have earned the admiration of all Americans. I wish to join with them in expressing my heartfelt good wishes for your speedy recovery."
The cave-in and rescue had been featured as part of the ``Survival!" television documentary series in the mid-1960s and the program -- complete with actual film clips of the rescue -- had been telecast several times.
(Portions of the material in this article are fully protected by previous U.S. Copyrights -- in 1985, 1986 and 1987 -- that had been acquired by Ed Conrad.)