T. E. Lawrence was born illegitimate, the product of a liason between his father and the family governess.
He first traveled to the Middle East as an archaeology student, and spent the summer of 1909 traveling solo through Syria and Palestine. He walked nearly 1,000 miles on foot and at various times was shot at, robbed and badly beaten. In spite of the arduous journey, he returned to Syria again the following year, for another archaeological expedition.
In 1914, the British military employed Lawrence on an archaeological expedition of the Sinai Peninsula and Negev Desert, a "research" trip that was actually a cover for a secret military survey of territory possessed by the Ottoman Turks.
Joe Rantz was born in 1914 in Spokane, Washington, and rowed in the 1936 Olympics.
Rantz’s mother died when he was three. At the start of the Great Depression, when Rantz was 15, his father and stepmother abandoned Joe. Without telling him where they were going they drove away in the family car while he watched the tail lights disappear in disbelief. In Rantz's words, "The whole thing was over in five minutes."
Amelia Earhart was born in Kansas. A spirit of adventure pervaded her childhood. She and her sister set off daily to explore their neighborhood, climbing trees and hunting rats with rifles.
When her father became an alcoholic and lost his job, the family house and all of its contents were auctioned. Earharts' parents separated, and her mother took the children to Chicago where they lived with friends until she finished High School.
As a young adult, Earhart visited Toronto. Emotionally moved by seeing wounded soldiers in a local hospital returning from World War I, she stayed and took a position at the hospital as a nurse volunteer.