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On October 15, 1943, Don Strait of the 356th Fighter Group flew his first mission over northern France. For the young Captain his first aerial combat took place on February 6, 1944, while flying one of a succession of P-47D Thunderbolts assigned to him, all named “Jersey Jerk.” He originally wanted his aircraft named “Jersey Bounce” in recognition of his home state however, that name was already taken.
Reluctant to include the word “jerk” in the name of his plane, he relented after his crew chief told him “Sir, let me tell you why we want to name it that. Any guy that would take off in a single engine airplane, cross the North Sea in the wintertime and take a chance of getting his ass shot off by the Luftwaffe or by anti-aircraft fire has to be a jerk.”
By the end of his first combat tour, Strait achieved two aerials victories over German Me-109s. Returning in September 1944 for his second combat tour, he joined his squadron in the transition to the P-51D Mustang. His personal aircraft was again named “Jersey Jerk.”
He was promoted to Operations Commander then Squadron Commander of the 361st. Through the end of the war in Europe, now Major Strait achieved a further 11 ½ aerial victories (5 ½ Me-109s, 3 FW- 190s and 3 Fi-156s) for a total of 13.5 while flying 122 combat missions over his two tours. He was the highest scoring pilot in the Group. After WWII Donald Strait continued to serve in the Air Force and Air National Guard retiring as a Major General.
In this painting Major Donald Strait achieves his 5th and 6th victories near Berlin in December of 1944.
Double over Berlin is available as both a signed, Limited Edition print on archival paper and as a larger sized, signed Artist Masterwork on canvas.
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