About The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery;
On November 12, 1971, Bernard Patterson, a much decorated Vietnam War hero turned real-life version of Don Quixote, Butch Cassidy, and Robin Hood all rolled into one, robbed the Northern National Bank in Mars Hill, Maine. He escaped with $110,000; at the time, the largest bank robbery in the history of the state. A tunnel rat and paratrooper in Vietnam who rose to the rank of sergeant, he was awarded four bronze stars, numerous other medals for bravery and recommended for a silver star for valor. He returned home to northern Maine broke and disillusioned. Wearing dark glasses, a blue bandanna, dressed in a Marx Brother’s style ankle length coat and wearing a bushy reddish, brown wig, he robbed the bank, even though he was recognized by the elderly teller. He initially escaped by paddling a rubber kayak down the Prestile Stream and then hiding out sleeping in the snow on Mars Hill Mountain for several days. This was the beginning of a comic, outrageous, implausible journey that took him across the United States, then to Europe and North Africa before he was finally captured by Scotland Yard on the Isle of Jersey after he had spent most of the money. Along the way, he lived a raucous life of wine and women while hobnobbing in aristocratic hangouts and giving money to those he perceived to be in need; all the time staying just a heartbeat ahead of law enforcement officials. He motor biked across Europe, hoodwinked border officials, bought a camel and got lost in the Sahara Desert. Returned to the United States for prosecution, he was convicted and imprisoned. Released several years later, he moved back to northern Maine, where he continued to lead a reckless life that included running a “pot farm,” until he died at age 56 in 2003. When asked by a friend why he had robbed the bank, he responded, “The VA wouldn’t give me a loan, so I decided to take one out on my own.”
The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery tells Bernard’s story. Published by Down East Books, it’s the biography of his adventure filled, controversial life. Not only does it relate his heroic military record, the robbery and his subsequent riotous escapades, but it details his struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Revered by neighbors, friends and contemporaries despite his misdeeds, he is one of Maine’s most colorful twentieth century figures.
About the Author:
Ron Chase is a former Registered Maine Guide and IRS accountant, and was active in the AMC as Canoe Chair and a Trip Leader. Now a freelance writer, he is a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines. He and his wife Nancy co-wrote Mountains for Mortals: New England: Scenic Summits for Hikers. Ron lives in Topsham, Maine.
Samplings of Readers Reviews:
5.0 out of 5 stars Action-packed
I travelled extensively abroad in my 20s (hence the handle "international lady of mystery"), but this fascinating true story makes my own adventures seem completely ordinary! A quick, easy read, this book is packed with fun and excitement. Author Ron Chase really did his research, helping readers get to intimately know and sometimes even relate to the bank-robbing, full-of-life protagonist. I highly recommend this book as a great read for the airport, the beach or just a rainy day at home. You will want to finish it all in one sitting! Thank you, Ron, for introducing me to the incredible life of Bernard Patterson.
5.0 out of 5 stars
It was awesome i'd give it a 10
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and a thrilling read!
I couldn't put the book down, it was such a fascinating story and engaging from beginning to end. There are some jaw-dropping coincidences and moments where I had to read sections twice because they are that amazing. Mr. Chase pulls you in with great descriptions of the numerous back drops from Northern Maine to the Alps and more!
5.0 out of 5 stars I felt like I could have been there while he was on ...
I'm not an avid reader; however, this was a story that I could not put down til finished. Growing up in he area, during the robbery, I knew most of the characters and they were true to form. I felt like I could have been there while he was on the run. Great book...highly recommend it...would like to see it as a movie. Thanks Ron, from Stuart.You won't be able to put it down!
5.0 out of 5 stars This Vietnam Vet's story was absolutely amazing. There were so many aspects to this book. The author's expert writting skills painted a perfect picture of Bernard Patterson's life and his escapades after the largest bank heist in the state of Maine in the early 70's. Mr. Chase's excellent writing style put me directly into the pages of this book. The detailed descriptions of Bernard's travels as well as the main character's thoughts throughout the book were captivating. I could smell the snowy air in the Alps, taste the fine cuisine, feel the desert heat & sand in Africa, not to mention the clammy, air-deprived, wretched tunnels of Viet Nam. I could not put this book down and found myself routing for Bernard, the "modern day" Robin Hood. This highly decorated war hero came home to no fanfare nor little to none of the promises made to most Vets. This book felt like a "Catch me if you can" story. I would love to see this as a movie. I HIGHLY recommend this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story written by a talented author! They say "Fact is stranger than fiction" and Bernard Patterson's life story certainly bears witness to this saying. Enter a world of intrigue, glamour and suspense through the skillful writing of Ronald Chase. Grab your favorite snack and settle in for a fascinating tale when you open the pages of "The Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery".
5.0 out of 5 stars
I'm not 100% sure, but I believe I am the only living witness to this Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery. Ron interviewed me a while back and though I didn't feel there was much I remembered, it was obvious he had left no stone unturned. I loved reading this book and learned so much about this event through Ron's book - outstanding!! My Dad would've loved it and loved talking to Ron about it had he been alive still. Well done, Ron - I hope a movie is made soon.
4.0 out of 5 stars barnburner and true story
The first time I picked up this book, I put it down after an hour. Getting acquainted with new characters is often slow work, and I had picked up the book to be entertained. The second time I began reading I didn't put it down until I was finished in the wee hours of the morning! The story turned into a “barn burner” that I could not put down until Bernard Patterson the lead character in the story is finally arrested. The reward for this effort; I felt both entertained and surprisingly moved by the Great Mars Hill Bank Robbery.
Author Ron Chase’s carefully researched true story of a Vietnam era “tunnel rat”, his return home, and his subsequent robbery of his local bank is a story of sheer mayhem, and you’re along for the ride!
All in all, a terrific, terrifying read that will leave you in both stiches and tears. I give it 4 stars for the stark, detailed, hilarious heart wrenching retelling of it all.
On Saturday, July 30th, 10:30-12:30, Ron Chase's non-fiction, The Great Mars Hill Bank Robberyfor sale/signing.