- Public Domain
On November 10, 1943, when Lt. Walter L. Chewning Jr., the catapult officer of the USS Enterprise, saw a 9,000-pound F6F Hellcat crash-land on the flight deck and erupt in a ball of flames as it barreled toward the gun gallery, he did not run away.
Instead, Chewning deliberately ran toward the wreck, stepped on the burning external fuel tank, which was hemorrhaging and fueling the flames, forced the plane’s jammed canopy open, and saved the stunned young pilot’s life.
The USS Enterprise would go down in history as an exemplary ship and crew in the Pacific theater of World War II, and the first carrier to respond after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Selfless acts of bravery, like the one captured in this image, typify the kind of spirit that helped the Allied powers win the war when things looked most bleak. Chewning would receive the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his actions on that day.