Megan Christensen and Meredith Kucera, 8th graders at Washburn Rural Middle School, won the $2,000 second place prize in the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes’ 2018 Discovery Award competition.
This international student competition honors creative research projects that uncover the stories of positive role models, or Unsung Heroes, whose impact on history remains largely unknown. The girls won for “The Incredibly Stupid One,” a documentary about U.S. Navy veteran Douglas Hegdahl, who was captured by the enemy during the Vietnam War.
Hegdahl convinced his North Vietnamese captors that he was illiterate and mentally impaired so they would view him as less of a threat. The ruse succeeded, and with his freedom of movement around the camp, Hegdahl was able to collect and commit to memory a vast amount of intelligence that turned out to be critical to the survival of his fellow prisoners.
LMC Fellows Alice Bertels and Lindsey Dowell advised the students as they researched Hegdahl’s life and contributions.
The documentary is available online here.
An audio feature on the win is below.