In December of 1944, the Germans broke through Allied lines during the Battle of the Bulge. The 352nd Fighter Group was moved to a forward base in Asch, Belgium designated Y-29.
Believing that these forward bases would be vulnerable on New Year's Day, the Germans began hoarding their Luftwaffe units for one final strike known as Operation Bodenplatte. In the early morning hours of January 1, 1945, 900 German fighters and bombers struck at these bases in Western Europe.
Antcipating such a surprise attack, Col. John C. Meyer led 12 P-51 Mustangs of the 352nd Fighter Group into the frigid morning air. The enemy attacked during Col. Meyer's takeoff roll. He pulled up sharply and shot down an FW-190 before his landing gear had completely retracted.
Not scheduled to fly that morning, 352nd FG Ace Capt. Donald S. Bryan witnessed the action. Capt. Bryan had the dubious distinction of being the only pilot whose personal aircraft, Little One III, was destroyed on the ground that day. LtCol Bryan achieved the status of "Ace in a Day", scoring five kills in one mission. LtCol Bryan finished the war with 13.34 confirmed victories.