Rufus Dye, Jr

BRANCH OF SERVICE
U.S. Army Air Forces

HOMETOWN
Brookport, IL

HONORED BY
John C. Burkhardt, SVC MOPH, Chapter 1919, Austin, Texas

ACTIVITY DURING WWII

FIGHTER PILOT FLYING P-38 'LIGHTNINGS' ASSIGNED TO THE 9TH AIR FORCE, 392 SQUADRON, 367 FIGHTER GROUP. THEY USUALLY FLEW MISSIONS OF BOMBER ESCORT, ARMED RECONNAISSANCE, INTERDICTION AND CLOSE AIR SUPPORT. ON THE NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER 8, 1944 HIS UNIT WERE CONDUCTING A RAID ON THE HEAVILY DEFENDED CITY OF COLOGNE, GERMANY. HIS PLANE WAS HIT AND LOST ALL RADIO CONTACT. HE NOTICED HIS WINGMAN HAD MOVED AWAY PUTTING SOME DISTANCE BETWEEN THE TWO PLANES. THEN HE NOTICED THAT ONE OF HIS ENGINES WAS ON FIRE. HE KNEW THAT P-38'S WITH LEAKING FUEL LINES HAD A TENDENCY TO BLOW UP. HE HAD RECEIVED A FLAK WOUND TO THE LEG AND KNEW WHEN HE PARACHUTED HE WAS VERY LIKELY TO HIT THE TAIL OF THE PLANE. HE BAILED OUT, STRIKING THE TAIL, BUT JUST IN TIME TO WATCH HIS PLANE DETONATE INTO A SPECTACULAR EXPLOSION. HE DRIFTED DOWN IN THE MOONLIGHT AND LANDED IN A POTATO FIELD OUT IN THE COUNTRYSIDE. HE HAD COME DOWN IN FULL VIEW OF A MASS RETREAT OF GERMAN ARMOR AND TROOPS THAT WERE ABOUT A QUARTER-MILE AWAY. EVEN THOUGH HE HAD TO HAVE BEEN SEEN BY THE GERMANS, NONE CAME AFTER HIM. AS HE COLLECTED HIS THOUGHTS HE WAS ABLE TO MAKE IT TO THE EDGE OF THE FIELD WITH BOTH ANKLES AND HIS BACK SEVERELY INJURED. ABOUT THAT TIME HE WAS ALMOST RUN OVER BY A YOUNG FRENCHMAN ON A BICYCLE. HE REMEMBERED HE HAD AN ESCAPE PACKET WITH FRENCH MONEY AND WAS SOON ABLE TO NEGOTIATE A DEAL, EVEN WITH LIMITED MEANS OF COMMUNICATION. THE GERMANS HEADED EAST, HE AND THE YOUNG FRENCHMAN HEADED WEST, WITH THE YOUNG FRENCHMAN PEDALING AWAY DOWN THE PATH, AS HE PERCHED ON THE HANDLEBARS. AFTER ABOUT 5 OR 6 KILOMETERS THEY CAME UPON BRITISH SOLDIERS WHO PUT HIM ON A COT AND GAVE HIM A FIFTH OF RED LABEL SCOTCH FOR THE PAIN AND IT WORKED. EARLY THE NEXT MORNING HE WAS TAKEN TO THE U.S. 7TH FIELD HOSPITAL WHERE HE RECEIVED PROPER MEDICAL ATTENTION.