Eiffel Tower … He’s Gone West

FW: Do you remember this? – Date: Fri, 4 Apr 2014 14:21:25 -0700

Remember the fighter pilot who flew through the Eiffel Tower… He’s Gone West…

In the spring of 1944 Bill and his P-51C, the ‘Berlin Express’ were near Paris when the scene that is immortalized in the artwork by Len Krenzler of Action Art that leads this article took place. Bill had followed this Bf109 from the bombers he was escorting when most of the German fighters left. The two planes had been in a running dogfight. The German pilot flew over Paris hoping that the heavy German anti-aircraft artillery would solve his problem and eliminate Overstreet and the ‘Berlin Express’, though Bill managed to get some hits in at about 1500 feet. The German’s engine was hit, and Bill stayed on his tail braving the intense enemy flak. His desperation undoubtedly growing, the German pilot aimed his plane at the Eiffel Tower and in a surprising maneuver, flew beneath it. Undeterred, Bill followed right behind him, scoring several more hits in the process. The German plane crashed and Bill escaped the heavy flak around Paris by flying low and full throttle over the river until he had cleared the cities heavy anti-aircraft batteries.

William ‘Bill’ Overstreet, Jr., a former Captain in the U.S. Air Corps, passed away recently at a hospital in Roanoke, VA.

He famously flew his plane beneath the Eiffel Tower in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, lifting the spirits of French troops on the ground

In 2009, he was presented France’s Legion of Honor

William Overstreet Jr. died recently at a hospital in Roanoke, Virginia, at age 92 – according to his obituary, but there was no indication of the cause of his death.

Before the ceremony, Overstreet had previously said that, if he lived long enough to receive the Legion of Honor, he would be accepting it in memory of his fallen brothers.

In particular, he wanted to pay tribute to a friend, Eddy Simpson, who died fighting the Nazis on the ground so his comrades, including Overstreet, could escape.

After the award was pinned to his lapel, Overstreet said: ‘If I said, “Thank you,” it wouldn’t be enough,’ before adding: ‘What more than “thank you” do you need?’

He was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia in 1921 and after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Air Corps as a fighter pilot.  By February 1942, he was a private and sent to California for flight training; here, his instructors prepared him for the unexpected mid-flight by cutting the engine as he landed.

Remembered: Overstreet was presented with France’s Legion of Honour in 2009

He was always humble. Whenever the press interviewed him he said, ” I didn’t do anything … we were a team.”

 

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