August 07, 1942

Capt. Harl Pease Jr., had flown a mission on Aug. 6 in his Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, which lost an engine near Rabaul, New Britain. He was forced to return to his base in Australia. He was not scheduled for the next day’s missions and all serviceable airplanes had crews assigned. He locates an unserviced bomber, somehow persuades the crew chief to get it in shape, and, with a volunteer crew, joins the day’s mission against the enemy at an airfield near Rabaul. When the formation is intercepted by approximately 30 enemy fighter pilots, Pease’s crew destroys several Zeroes before dropping his bombs as planned. The fight lasts 25 minutes until the group dives into cloud cover. After leaving the target, Pease’s aircraft falls behind and the enemy ignites one of his bomb bay fuel tanks. He is seen dropping the flaming tank, but the airplane and crew do not return to base. Pease is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, and in 1957, the (now closed) air base at Portsmouth, N.H., will be named Pease AFB in his honor.