Today I met the granddaughter of Henry E. “Red” Erwin.
Jennifer Michaels and her two sons, David (6) and Will (3), were here to visit the Congressional Medal of Honor museum, while her Air Force husband was at Charleston Air Force Base on temporary duty.
A picture of her grandfather graces one of the museum’s displays. As a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, 20th Air Force, Henry “Red” Erwin was distinguished in an amazing story and saved his B-29 crew from destruction over Japan in 1945. Read his citation here.
The movie “Wild Blue Yonder” (1951) depicts his action over Japan, but did not cover his also heroic recovery which lasted many years and took forty-three operations to rebuild his face, after losing an eye, an ear and his nose, plus several fingers.
One interesting story on Red is that as he was not expected to live, General Curtis LeMay dispatched an airplane and crew to Honolulu, Hawaii. Their mission was to steal the only Medal of Honor available in the Pacific at Army Headquarters and return it to him at Guam for the award to Red before he died.