On December 5, 1944, then Major Don Strait was leading three other Mustangs as part of an escort of B-17s on a raid to Berlin. Strait had already scored four victories and at the time was the Commanding Officer of the 361st Fighter Squadron of the 356th Fighter Group. As the B-17s below dropped their bombs, Strait and his squadron mates were met with a frightening sight - out of the sun and with the advantage of altitude, over 20 FW-190s and Bf109s pounced on the escorting P-51s.
Strait closed his eyes as all of the fighters merged into a small sliver of sky, fearing he was about to die in a mid-air collision. Realizing he was still very much alive, he could not believe the sight in front of him. Two of the pursuing Focke Wulfs were now the hunted as he was behind the Germans. A quick burst into the wingman of the two ship and the 190 erupted in flames and smoke.
Expecting the leader to split-S and dive for the ground, Strait was once again surprised. The German turned into Straits' line of flight and the Mustang's guns found their mark. Donald Strait scored his 5th and 6th victories ushering him into the history books as an 8th Air Force Ace.
Major Strait finished the war with 13.5 aerial kills. He served in the United States Air Force until the 1970's retiring as a Major General.
Rick Herter was personally commissioned by General Strait to create this painting. It hangs in his home, opposite of an original William S. Phillips piece that was done a few years earlier.