2lt WALTER E. TRUEMPER
SGT Archibald Mathies (Air Mission)
510th Bomber Squadron, 351st Bomber Group
U.S. Army Air Corps
20 February 1944
Lt. Truemper and Sgt Mathies were Flying as Navigator and Ball-Turret Gunner
respectively, on a bombing mission over Europe on 20 February 1944. Their aircraft was attacked in force by a squadron of enemy fighters.
The pilot was killed and Co-pilot rendered unconscious from his wounds, sending the aircraft into a spiral to the ground. Sgt Mathies and Lt Truemper managed to get the dead co-pilot out of his seat, with Mathies taking his place at the controls.
In an incredible act of both skill and courage, the two untrained pilots managed to right the aircraft and fly her home.
On arrival they reported their situation, having no pilots, and after another aircraft flew close enough to inspect the flight controls it was decided that the aircraft could not land safely. The crew was ordered to fly to a specific area and bail-out, letting the disabled aircraft crash.
Mathies and Truemper radioed that their pilot was still alive, but could not be moved. They refused the order to bail out. They refused to desert their brother.
Mathies and Truemper took their places in the Pilot and CO-Pilot seats then made 3 attempts to land the crippled ship. On attempt number three, the plane cartwheeled into an open field.
Sgt. Mathies, 2Lt Truemper, and the wounded pilot were killed.