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Tue, Jan 07, 2014

Gone West: WWII Fighter Pilot William Overstreet Jr.

Famously Flew Through The Eiffel Tower In Pursuit Of A German Plane

A WWII P-51 pilot who became famous for flying his airplane through the arches of the Eiffel Tower in pursuit of a German Messerschmitt Bf-109G during the war passed away last week in Roanoke, VA. William Overstreet Jr. was 92 years old.

During the European liberation effort in 1944, Overstreet flew his P-51C 'Berlin Express' beneath the tower, a feat that was said to have lifted the spirits of the French Resistance troops on the ground in the occupied city. Overstreet was presented with France's Legion of Honor for his heroics in 2009 by the French ambassador to the United States.

Overstreet had been born in Clifton Forge, VA in 1921, and enlisted in the Army Air Corps and a fighter pilot shortly after the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor. The Roanoke (VA) Times reports that he had been awarded hundreds of medals during his military service in the 357th squadron of the U.S. Army Air Forces.

The U.K. newspaper The Times reports that Overstreet followed the Messerschmitt pilot under the tower as he continued to fire. The American pilot successfully shot down the German before escaping the city.

Overstreet's obituary said he returned from the war and worked briefly as General Manager of Charleston Aviation in West Virginia before returning to Roanoke and marrying Nita Brackens, who preceded him in death. He worked as an accountant in Roanoke until retiring at age 65.

Services for Overstreet were held last Friday.

(Public domain image)

FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/357th_Fighter_Group

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