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Bill Overstreet, One Of The Great American Heroes Of WWII Has Died At 92 – Flew Under The Eiffel Tower In Dog Fight….Seriously, He Did


Bill Overstreet, One Of The Great American Heroes Of WWII Has Died At 92 – Flew Under The Eiffel Tower In Dog Fight….Seriously, He Did

When the history of huge wars is written, credence is given to many things. There’s tactics, training, equipment, and strategy, but along with all of those things there are always singular acts highlighted and given plenty of weight. Whether it was Alvin York capturing 100+ German soldiers by himself in WWI or Jimmy Doolittle and his raiders flying over Tokyo and dropping a relatively insignificant amount of ordinance on that city in WWII, these moments often serve as rallying points for entire armies and Bill Overstreet was a guy who managed to motivate an entire resistance movement with his own singular moment of courage, skill, and dogged determination in Paris during WWII.

Bill Overstreet was a P-51 Mustang pilot and a damned good one. He was in the air during 1944 and at the controls of his P-51 named (awesomely) Berlin Express. During a mission that Spring he got caught up in a dog fight with a German pilot in a Messerschmitt Bf 109 over Paris and soon he found himself chasing this guy all over creation trying to put him down. After he managed to shoot up the German plane’s engine, the pilot of said plane decided that the only way to escape Overstreet’s pursuit was to do something insane. The guy dove down to treetop level and flew his plane through the support arches for the Eiffel tower. Overstreet didn’t miss a beat, flew right through behind him and then managed to blast the German plane out of the sky a couple of minutes later. Understanding that spending a whole lot of time over the German held city of Paris would be hazardous to his health, he went hammer down and flew out of town at a very low altitude to avoid anti-aircraft guns. Obviously a BUNCH of people saw this scene take place and the story quickly spread. It became a serious source of inspiration to the French resistance which was doing whatever it could to make life suck for the occupying Germans. The bravery and skill that Overstreet and others of his ilk had is almost unfathomable. While we certainly don’t revel in anyone’s death, imagine what that poor German guy was thinking when he came up with the plan, figured he had Overstreet ditched for sure and then heard the P-51 roaring right up his backside again. Unreal.

Here’s a direct quote from Overstreet which comes from the website Banrstormers.com  – “I had followed this 109 from the bombers when most of the German fighters left. We had a running dogfight and I got some hits about 1500 feet. He then led me over Paris where many guns were aimed at me. As soon as he was disabled, I ducked down just over the river and followed the river until I was away from Paris.” 

Overstreet continued to fly, was in the air at D-Day and then was involved in other missions as well. He eventually left the service, hung up his fighter pilot spurs and became an accountant. In 2009 the French government had him back to France and presented him with their Legion of Honor, the highest medal that they award and rightfully so. His singular act kept a very weak flame alive and may have even caused it to flare up and make life more intolerable for the Germany occupiers of France. Bill Overstreet was 92-years old.

 

berlin express

 

Overstreet-Berlin-Express


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14 thoughts on “Bill Overstreet, One Of The Great American Heroes Of WWII Has Died At 92 – Flew Under The Eiffel Tower In Dog Fight….Seriously, He Did

    1. Keith Fox

      They really were the greatest generation. We have the aftermarket hotrod parts because of them too.

  1. John Ford

    I really like that Bang Shift is taking the time to remember these men and women. God’s speed, Bill.

    ~J~

  2. crazy canuck

    Rest in peace Mr Overstreet. Good on you Brian for posting on important people like this. We cannot forget about these peoples contributions to our society. Too many don’t care anymore.

  3. Don Fitzgerald

    The stories the pilots and crew(of the bombers) and fighter aircraft deserve to be told and the people who were there serving our great country. Thank You!

  4. Oleffson78

    Simply awesome story. How many people have been able to say “yeah, I flew under the Eiffel Tower” and in hot pursuit, no less. Stuff movies are made from. Thanks for posting. How many years has it been, and this is the first time I’ve heard this story?

  5. Chuck

    Wow. I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower and to think that ANY pilot would have the balls to fly under the archs at full throttle is almost beyond belief.

    Here’s a comparison: think of pilot a Bonneville speedster at 200+ mph through a ‘slot’ as wide as a fast good drive up window path.

    Think you could do it?

  6. hamit mehmet

    Thank god that there was brave men like him to keep us safe. A fact that I as an 42 year old English man will always be grateful for and make sure that ever year I pay my respect on rememrance Sunday do my two minutes silence. And I make sure my children will do so. So from my heart a big thanks to all men and women who fight to keep us safe. God bless

  7. theYELLA BRICK

    It’s very heartening to see GEARheads from around the world paying respects to the folks who fought to retain our freedoms.
    Major Kudos to BangShift. “Love ya Man !”

  8. Tom

    RIP Bill. Awesome story… Not only his raucous pass under the Eiffel Tower, but doing it in a P-51B with whitewalls! Now that’s class…!

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