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Wrong William Overstreet?

William B. Overstreet


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Background Information

Employment History

357th Fighter Group

French Ambassador To the United States

National D-Day Memorial Foundation


U.S. Army Air

Surviving Member


Morris Harvey College

Washington and Lee


Web References(114 Total References)

Memoriam [cached]

William Overstreet Jr., chased German aircraft beneath arches of Eiffel Tower
Pursuing German aircraft, he flew under Eiffel Tower ROANOKE - Former fighter pilot William Overstreet Jr., famous for flying beneath the arches of the Eiffel Tower while chasing a German aircraft during World War II, died Sunday at the age of 92. Overstreet was awarded hundreds of medals for his service in the 357th squadron of the U.S. Army Air Forces, according to his obituary posted by Oakey's Funeral Home. One of his greatest honors was receiving France's Legion of Honor from the French ambassador to the United States in 2009 at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford.

Extraordinary artwork depicting one of Bill Overstreet's most dramatic aerial victories, by Len Krenzler of Action Art
We had the pleasure of speaking at length with World War Two aviator, William B."Bill" Overstreet at Warbirds Over the Beach 2013, and as promised, we're going to relate some of the compelling stories of his experiences during the war. While he is in his nineties, he is still sharp, and in talking to him, you can still see the spark of the twenty-something daredevil he once was in his eyes as he recounts his exploits, fighting the forces of fascism from the cockpit of a fighter plane over Europe all those years ago. WWII Aviator, Bill Overstreet WWII Aviator, Bill Overstreet Hailing from Clifton Forge, Virginia, Bill Overstreet was born on April 10, 1921. On the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Bill was working as a statistical engineer for Columbia Engineering and attending Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston) in Charleston, WV. Wanting to get in the Air Corps as a fighter pilot, Bill enlisted and did a lot of fast talking to get accepted into the program, and by February 1942 he was a private, waiting for an opening as an Aviation Cadet. After several months, he was sent to Santa Anna, California, for preflight training, and after several months at preflight, he was sent to Rankin Aeronautical Academy in Tulare, California, for primary flight training flying Stearmans. Tex Rankin, the Rankin school's founder and chief instructor was a champion aerobatic pilot and often took the opportunity to demonstrate his skills. In keeping with Rankin's vision, the school employed some unusual methods to produce skilled aviators, including surprising students mid-flight. One story Bill relates is how his instructor, Carl Aarslef, while on the downwind leg of a landing pattern, at 500 feet, would suddenly turn the Stearman upside down, cut the engine, and say, "OK, you land it. Bill theorizes that the real test was for his reaction to the unexpected, and learning to keep one's head in an unanticipated situation, where one second can mean the difference between life and death, is a useful skill for a pilot, and was certainly put to use over the course of Bills flying career. The next phase in Overstreet's training was basic flight training at Lemoore, California, where he flew the Vultee BT-13 Valiant, a faster and heavier plane than the biplanes utilized in the initial phase of training and introduced aspiring pilots to two-way radio communications with the ground, operating landing flaps and adjustable propeller pitch. The third phase of training took place at Luke Field, in Arizona. Piloting North American T-6 Texans and later on Curtiss P-40 Warhawks was a revelation to Bill, and while the commanding officer had picked Bill for additional training for multi-engined aircraft, Bill was able to convince the CO to instead assign him as a fighter pilot rather than going on to become a bomber pilot. Bill and his cherished 1938 Buick in California in 1943 Bill and his cherished 1938 Buick in California in 1943 Upon graduation, Overstreet was initially assigned to Hamilton Field, California. Later he went on to the 357th Fighter Group, 363rd Fighter Squadron. The squadron was being moved from Nevada to Santa Rosa, California, and Bill got to fly with experienced pilots from whom he learned a great deal. Bill was in combat training in June 28th, 1943 when he had his first crash, at the controls of an Bell P-39 Airacobra, which went into a dreaded flat spin, a condition uniquely devastating for the model and which claimed many a pilot's life. Bill and his squadron-mates were practicing aerobatic maneuvers when his plane strated tumbling and he couldn't control it. Bill went to release the Airacobra's doors but the air pressure prevented them from opening. He finally managed to get a knee against one door with his shoulder against the other, trying to overcome the pressure, and the moment he got out, he pulled the ripcord on his parachute. The moment the chute snapped open Bill found himself standing amidst the wreckage of his plane right by the propeller. He was so close to the ground when he escaped his doomed plane that none of his flight-mates even saw his chute deploy, Bill belives he was perhaps the first pilot to survive the crash of a tumbling P-39, and he made a point on tracking down the man who packed his chute to personally thank him for a job well done. After additional training, flying P-39s in Oroville, California and Casper, Wyoming, Bill was declared "combat ready" and was sent to Camp Shanks in New Jersey before being loaded on the Queen Elizabeth to cross the Atlantic for deployment at Raydon Airfield as part of the Ninth Air Force. There were no planes available at that point, so Bill felt fairly useless there, but as luck would have it, North American P-51 Mustangs were becoming available, and the Ninth Air Force traded Bill's plane-less squadron for a squadron of pilots and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts with the Eighth Air Force, so Bill found himself stationed at RAF Leiston. Bill got to fly a p-51 for the first time on January 30, 1944, and as the inventory of the planes increased, the opportunity to fly them increased as well. Bill and his P-51, "Berlin Express" Bill named his first P-51, which he received in February, 1944 "Southern Belle," but it was lost along with its pilot on a combat mission a couple of weeks later. Re-thinking the name, given that by that time they were regularly flying sorties to Germany, he named all of his subsequent planes "Berlin Express. Bill relates, "Not long after (the March 6th Mission), I had a freak accident. Another mission that didn't turn out as expected occurred when Bill flew with a sinus infection. He and his group were escorting a sortie of bombers, and in chasing German fighters away from the flight, he engaged in a power dive from 30,000 feet, chasing after a Messerschmitt Bf 109. The extreme change in pressure caused his eyes to swell shut, blinding him. Bill was able to keep his plane in the air by control feel, but had no way to determine his heading or carry out a landing. Calling on his radio for help, one of Bill's mates, Indicated that he could see Bill's plane and gave him instructions to get the plane pointed in the right direction, then got on his wing and together the two made their way back to the base in England. Bill was talked through a straight-in approach and landing. It took several days under the care of the Base's doctors before the swelling had gone down enough for Bill to see again. In the spring of 1944 Bill and his P-51C "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 Bf 109 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 city's heavy anti-aircraft batteries. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Overstreet and his group took off at around 2AM in terrible weather, climbing to about 20,000 feet to get out of the overcast. He recalls it as beautiful when they had finally cleared the clouds, with a bright moon and the sight of all of the aircraft rising from the clouds after their long climb to get above the weather. With all the planes in the air, his wing never did find their assigned flights, so they just formed up in flights of four, knowing that their mission was to get to France and make sure no German fighter planes could interfere with the invasion as well as preventing German reinforcements from being brought up. Their first mission was six hours, then they had to return to base for fuel. His group flew eight missions on the day of the invasion. June 7th brought a sortie that saw Bill and his mates strafing trains, trucks and military vehicles. On the 10th, more hits on German supply lines were carried

Robert Taylor Aviation Art Gallery [cached]

The Victory in Europe Edition is additionally signed by First Lieutenant Joseph Black, First Lieutenant Raymond T. Conlin, Lieutenant Colonel William W. Foard, First Lieutenant Dale E. Karger, Major John A. Kirla, Captain William B. Overstreet, Colonel Arval J. Roberson, First Lieutenant John Skara

Colonel C E Bud Anderson - Signed Aviation Art [cached]

Captain William B. Overstreet,
Colonel Arval J. Roberson (deceased) Bud Anderson and Bill Overstreet, the two co-signers of this limited edition, wanted to especially remember two of their friends and fallen squadronmates from the 363rd Fighter Squadron, Jim Browning and Eddie Simpson. Bud Anderson and Bill Overstreet, the two co-signers of this limited edition, wanted to especially remember two of their friends and fallen squadronmates from the 363rd Fighter Squadron, Jim Browning and Eddie Simpson.

Captain William B Overstreet
Colonel Arval J Roberson

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