Knut Haugland, the last surviving crew member of the Kon-Tiki died on December 25. The six man 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, organized by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl, set out from Callao in Peru on a balsa wood raft to prove that people from South America could have settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The expedition used only material and technology that would have been available to people at the time. The crew sailed the raft for 101 days and 4,900 miles across the Pacific before smashing into a reef at Raroia in the Tuamotu Islands.
But more importantly, Knut Haugland was a much decorated veteran of the Norwegian resistance. He helped sabotage a Norwegian heavy water plant that the Allies suspected might be used to construct a German atomic bomb. Haugland built a radio transmitter from a car battery and fishing rods. The mission was the subject of the 1965 film, Heroes of the Telemark. Haugland narrowly evaded capture when a transmitter he had hidden in the chimney of the Oslo Maternity Hospital was discovered.
Knut is at the top of my list of true Viking heroes. But all he ever said about his exploits was, “We just did a job.”
Mange tussen takk, Knut.