April 24, 1945

1945: MEDAL OF HONOR–In his P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bomber, Lt Raymond L. Knight of Twelfth Air Force flew several low-level strafing missions in Italy’s northern Po Valley. He destroyed 14 enemy aircraft and wrecked 10 others on the ground. In his final attack, Knight’s plane was damaged so badly it was virtually inoperable. Realizing his unit’s critical need for aircraft, he tried to return to base. He crashed and died in the Apennines Mountains. Knight earned the medal for his actions and sacrifice. The gallant action of 1st Lt. Knight eliminated the German aircraft which were poised to wreak havoc on Allied forces pressing to establish the first firm bridgehead across the Po River; his fearless daring and voluntary self-sacrifice averted possible heavy casualties among ground forces and the resultant slowing on the German drive culminated in the collapse of enemy resistance in Italy. Lt Knight’s actions remain one of the most heroic and determined actions in WW II aerial combat history.