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January 04, 2014
William Overstreet Jr. 1921-2014
In 1944 this P-51 fighter jock chased an Me109 under the Eiffel Tower. Got the kill too.
Just how much clearance was that you ask? Well, from the ground to the floor of the first platform is 186 feet. I can't quite tell how far it is from the bottom of the arch to the top of the first platform, but it looks roughly 1/3 of that 186 feet, so I'm gonna say from the ground to the bottom arch he had about 120 feet to play with. While firing in pursuit. While being fired at by the enemy on the ground.
No wonder they still talk about it.
I'll just excerpt one bit from this article from an interview of Overstreet, but read the whole thing including the part about his one-second parachute opening before a crash in a spinning Bell P-39 Aircobra. There are several photos.
Another mission that didnít turn out as expected occurred when Bill flew with a sinus infection. He and his group were escorting a sortie of bombers, and in chasing German fighters away from the flight, he engaged in a power dive from 30,000 feet, chasing after a Messerschmitt Bf 109. The extreme change in pressure caused his eyes to swell shut, blinding him. Bill was able to keep his plane in the air by control feel, but had no way to determine his heading or carry out a landing. Calling on his radio for help, one of Billís mates, Indicated that he could see Billís plane and gave him instructions to get the plane pointed in the right direction, then got on his wing and together the two made their way back to the base in England. Bill was talked through a straight-in approach and landing. It took several days under the care of the Baseís doctors before the swelling had gone down enough for Bill to see again.
He landed his P-51. Blind.
He returned home in October of 1944, taught gunnery school and became an accountant while in the reserves. He worked for a CPA firm until his retirement in 1984.
In 2009 he returned to France and was awarded the Legion of Honor. Pierre Vimont, the Ambassador of France to the U.S. who pinned the medal on him credited Overstreet for his "heroic contribution to the liberation of France." He also recalled Bill saying "thank you" more than once.
With respect Captain, I think you had that exactly backwards sir. Thank you. May you rest in honored glory.
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