May 01, 1943

SSgt. Maynard H. Smith flies his first mission as a gunner aboard a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress with the 306th Bomb Group’s 423rd Squadron over Europe. On return, over St. Nazaire, France, his bomber is subjected to intense enemy antiaircraft fire and fighter airplane attacks, being hit several times with fires in the radio compartment and waist sections. Three of the crew bail out over water. On his own, Smith succeeds in extinguishing the flames, renders first aid to a wounded crew member, mans the workable guns, and throws exploding ammunition overboard. He is later awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions, one of only four AAF enlisted men to receive the award in World War II.