February 20, 1944

After a bombing run on enemy installations at Leipzig, Germany, a 510th Bomb Squadron Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is attacked, killing the copilot, severely wounding the pilot and radio operator, and extensively damaging the aircraft. SSgt. Archibald Mathies and 2nd Lt. Walter E. Truemper fly the aircraft back to their home station at Polebrook, England, where all but Mathies and Truemper bail out. The 510th BS commander orders them from the ground to abandon the crippled aircraft, but they refuse to desert the injured pilot. On their third attempt to land, the airplane crashes into an open field, killing Mathies, Truemper, and the injured pilot. Mathies and Truemper are posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor; Mathies is one of only four AAF enlisted men to receive the award in World War II.