1Lt Edward S. Michael, while serving as pilot of a B-17 aircraft on a heavy-bombardment mission to Germany, ran into a swarm of enemy fighters. They singled out his plane and pressed their attacks recklessly, completely disregarding the Allied fighter escort and their own intense flak. His plane was riddled from nose to tail with exploding cannon shells and knocked out of formation, with a large number of fighters following it down, blasting it with cannon fire as it descended. A cannon shell exploded in the cockpit, wounded the copilot, wrecked the instruments, and blew out the side window. Michael received a serious and painful wound in the right thigh. Hydraulic fluid filmed over the windshield making visibility impossible, and smoke filled the cockpit. The controls failed to respond and 3,000 feet were lost before he succeeded in leveling off. The radio operator informed him that the whole bomb bay was in flames after 3 cannon shells exploded and ignited the incendiaries. With a full load of incendiaries in the bomb bay and a considerable gas load in the tanks, the danger of fire enveloping the plane and the tanks exploding seemed imminent. When the emergency release lever failed, Michael gave the bail out order and 7 crewmen left the plane. Seeing the bombardier firing the navigator's gun at the enemy planes, Michael ordered him to bail out too. The bombardier, however, found his parachute rendered useless by 20-mm fragments. Michael, seeing the ruined parachute, realized that if he abandoned the plane the bombardier would perish, and so he decided to make a crash landing. Completely disregarding his own painful and profusely bleeding wounds, and thinking only of the safety of the remaining crewmen, he gallantly evaded the enemy, using violent evasive actions. After the plane had been under sustained enemy attack for fully 45 minutes, Michael finally lost the persistent fighters in a cloud bank. Upon emerging, an accurate barrage of flak caused him to come down to treetop level where flak towers poured a continuous rain of fire on the plane. He continued into France, realizing that at any moment a crash landing might have to be attempted, but trying to get as far as possible to increase the escape possibilities if a safe landing could be achieved. Michael flew the plane until he became exhausted from the loss of blood and lost consciousness. The copilot succeeded in reaching England and sighted an RAF field near the coast. Michael finally regained consciousness and once again took over the controls to land the plane. The airplane was in terrible condition with a useless undercarriage, open bomb bay doors, a failed hydraulic system and altimeter, no airspeed indicator, a jammed ball turret with the guns pointing downward, and inoperable flaps. Despite these apparently insurmountable obstacles, Michael landed the plane without mishap. Lt Edward Michael is one of the 17 Medal of Honor recipients from Eighth Air Force during World War II. Rest of the Story: He survived the war and transferred to the USAF in 1947. He retired in 1971 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and passed away on 10 May 1994 with burial in Utah.