April 12, 1945

While flying in the lead Boeing B-29 (nicknamed City of Los Angeles) on a strike to Koriyama, Japan, SSgt. Henry Erwin launches a phosphorous smoke marker to aid in the assembly of the group over the rendezvous point. The marker explodes in the launch tube and is shot back into the aircraft. Disregarding his personal safety and now blinded, Erwin picks up the burning marker and stumbles toward the cockpit. He runs into the hinged navigator’s table but puts the phosphorus marker under his arm and lifts the table. He makes it to the cockpit and drops the marker out the copilot’s window. Suffering third degree burns over most of his upper body and near death, Erwin’s Medal of Honor citation is prepared as soon as the crew lands. It is approved in only two days. Miraculously, Erwin, one of four AAF enlisted men to receive the Medal of Honor, survives his ordeal.