On November 10, 1943, when Lieutenant 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 towards the gun gallery, he did not run away.
Instead, Chewning deliberately ran towards the wreck, stepped on the burning external fuel tank, which was haemorrhaging and fuelling 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 theatre of World War II, and the first carrier to respond after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.
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.
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