During the latter half of WWII, the name Ploesti was synonymous with carnage and sacrifice for the objective. And ‘Operation Tidal Wave’ certainly presented us with its share of examples of selfless acts. Visit here for more: http://www.homeofheroes.com/wings/part2/09_ploesti.html
Today we feature one of those men who gave everything for the cause.
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John L. Jerstad
Rank and organization: Major, U.S. Army Air Corps, 9th Air Force.
Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943. (Air Mission)
Entered service at: Racine, Wis.
Born: 12 February 1918, Racine, Wis.
G.O. No: 72, 28 October 1943.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. On 1 August 1943, he served as pilot of the lead aircraft in his group in a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and installations at Ploesti, Rumania. Although he had completed more than his share of missions and was no longer connected with this group, so high was his conception of duty that he volunteered to lead the formation in the correct belief that his participation would contribute materially to success in this attack. Maj. Jerstad led the formation into attack with full realization of the extreme hazards involved and despite withering fire from heavy and light antiaircraft guns. Three miles from the target his airplane was hit, badly damaged, and set on fire. Ignoring the fact that he was flying over a field suitable for a forced landing, he kept on the course. After the bombs of his aircraft were released on the target, the fire in his ship became so intense as to make further progress impossible and he crashed into the target area. By his voluntary acceptance of a mission he knew was extremely hazardous, and his assumption of an intrepid course of action at the risk of life over and above the call of duty, Maj. Jerstad set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.
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