Co-signed by six American Combat Hall of Fame inductees
November 8. 1943, 1/Lt. George Chandler, from Pratt, Kansas, 339FS, 347FG, has safely returned to his base at Munda, New Georgia Island. This day marks the US invasion of Bougainville at Empress Augusta Bay. Flying a P-38-H, George has shot down in a single pass, his second and third victories. Both are Mitsubishi Zero 52s flying from Rabaul and attempting to dive bomb the invasion fleet.
This lithograph was signed on September 28, 2007 commemorating the 2007 Inductees into the American Combat Hall of Fame, Commemorative Air Force, Midland, Texas.
Maj. William B. BERRY - William Berry enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1943, becoming a B-25 pilot. On Dec. l0, 1944, Berry awoke with a premonition that his next mission would be his last. Over the target in Northern Italy, heavy flak hit Berry's airplane and Berry ordered the surviving crew to bail out and followed them. Winter in the Alps, alone, with no survival equipment, no food, 250 miles behind enemy lines, this was Berry's situation. He made contact with a group of remarkably brave individuals, members of the Italian resistance. So quickly did Berry adapt to the Partisan's life that he was made commander of a 40 man-unit on Mount Pizzoc and spent l44 days as a Partisan. For his gallantry and devotion to duty, Berry was awarded the Silver Star.
Maj. George T. CHANDLER, P-38 Ace - George Chandler flew the legendary Lockheed P-38 fighter in the Southwest Pacific, becoming an Ace. Chandler's most memorable mission occurred as he was above Bougainville leading the second flight of four Lightnings. He could hear the fighter controller vectoring other aircraft to intercept a big Japanese raid of almost 150 airplanes. The Lightning's flying high cover over the fleet, dove to engage the Japanese fighters. Chandler saw two Zero fighters diving on a transport that was just off-loading troops. The P-38 quickly overtook the Japanese fighters and shot them both down. Among his decorations are the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Air Medal with eleven oak leaf clusters.
Col. Bernard F. FISHER, Medal of Honor Recipient - Col. Bernard Fisher received the first of 12 Medals of Honor awarded to members of the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Flying an A-1 in close air support for a Special Forces camp under attack by thousands of North Vietnamese regulars, Fisher found a hole in the cloud deck and dove to the attack. Another A-1 was hit and forced to belly land on a badly damaged runway. Although low on fuel, Fisher landed on the runway that was too short for a Skyraider and his plan ran off the end. The downed pilot sprinted to Fisher's airplane but could not climb up. Fisher pulled him headfirst into the cockpit. Among his decorations are the World War II Victory Medal, The American Campaign Medal, one Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters representing 200 combat missions in Vietnam, the Distinguished Flying Cross and a Silver Star.
Capt. Norman J. "Dusty" KLEISS - Dusty Kleiss would find himself playing a key role in the most important naval battle of WWII, at Midway in 1942, changing the course of WWII. Kleiss first saw action in a series of hit-and-run raids on Japanese installations, resulting in Kleiss receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross. On June 4, 1942, Kleiss launched off the Enterprise and located the carrier Kaga. The ensuing attack turned Kaga into a blazing inferno. Later that day Kleiss and six other SBDs sank the carrier Hiryu. The next day Kleiss led his section of three Dauntlesses against the heavy cruisers, Mogami and Mikuma. Repeated hits caused Mikuma to sink and Mogami was severely damaged. For his role in these actions around Midway, Kleiss received the Navy Cross.
CDR Don W. MCMILLAN - Don McMillan's first assignment was as an Avenger torpedo bomber pilot. He took part in strikes on Guam, Iwo Jima, Mindanao, Chichi Jima, Taiwan and Okinawa, flying off the USS Lexington. CDR McMillan played a key role in the destruction of the last carriers in the Japanese navy during the Battle of LeyteGulf. On October 25, McMillan and VT-19 came in low to deliver torpedoes into the side of the carrier Zuikaku, one of the Japanese carriers that participated in the Pearl Harbor attack. Despite extremely heavy anti-aircraft fire, at least five torpedoes struck the Zuikaku and within an hour she sank. For his bravery in pressing home the attack on Zuikaru, McMillan was awarded the Navy Cross.
Elmer SMITH, Representing the 352nd Fighter Group, USAAF - Flying P-47 Thunderbolts and later P-51 Mustangs, the 352nd became one of the most successful and highly decorated fighter squadrons in WWII. The group flew nearly 60,000 combat hours in 19 months; claimed 519 aerial victories and produced 29 Aces. The most memorable event in the history of the 352nd occurred on New Year's Day, 1945 when the Luftwaffe launched an attack on 16 allied airfields. Suspecting an early-morning raid, the Group's Mustangs were warming up on the runway when the first German fighters roared in. During the ensuing melee, nearly 30 Luftwaffe fighters were claimed downed without loss. For their actions that day, three of the Group's pilots received the Distinguished Service Cross and four others received Silver Stars.