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Intrepid aviator SMITH


  • Nom
    Intrepid aviator SMITH
  • Lieu
  • Contribution
    Erwan LR
  • ID


Intrepid aviator SMITH
Intrepid aviator SMITH

Sergeant MAYNARD SMITH is a gunner on B-17 Flying Fortress with the 423rd Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bomb Group.

May 1, 1943, SMITH takes off on a mission to bomb the U-Boat base over the city of Saint Nazaire.

The bombs were dropped without too much enemy resistance, the formation leader deciding to foil enemy defenses by flying among the clouds. The navigator thought he was level with the English south coast, the pilot descended to 2000 feet, in reality they were approaching the fortified town of Brest. The rain of anti-aircraft defense began to hit the aircraft, with enemy fighters rapidly approaching.

Sergeant SMITH is wounded under heavy fire, damage to the aircraft is considerable, a fire rages in the center of the fuselage, communications are also interrupted.

Three crew members decide to jump overboard by parachute to avoid dying in mid-air. Sergeant SMITH remained on board to provide first aid to two wounded comrades. At the same time, he used the 50-caliber machine gun to open fire on the enemy.

The fire begins to wreak havoc on board, and he threatens to break the aircraft in two if this continues. SMITH throws boxes of burning ammunition overboard to stop the explosions.

For 90 minutes he opens fire to defend his B-17, care for his wounded comrades and actively fights the fire using all the firefighting kits on board, finally equipping a flameproof suit he successfully extinguishes the fire by hand.

This B-17 landed whole at England's first airfield, with over 3500 impacts on the aircraft's fuselage. Unfortunately, the three crew members who jumped in the vicinity of Brest will disappear at sea and never be found.

For his heroic deeds with courage beyond the call of duty, he will be awarded the medal of honor

Photo credit: United States Army Air Forces

Intrepid aviator SMITH
Intrepid aviator SMITH.

Intrepid aviator SMITH

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