From left to right: Captain Walker L Boone of Oklahoma; Flight Officer Manuel S. Martinez of Mount Kisco NY, and Flight Officer Jerry E. Brasher of Roswell, New Mexico, pilots of the 82nd Fighter Squadron, 78th Fighter Group, sit on the bonnet of a Dodge WC (weapons carrier) at Duxford air base in October 1943. Duxford's control tower can be seen in the background. "Fighter pilots flew escort missions to protect the bombers from enemy aircraft. Flying on 11 February 1944, they received word that a lone B-17 Flying Fortress had fallen behind its formation and was under attack. Jerry E Brasher was part of the flight that responded. He reported bringing down one of the German Me 109s seeking out the stranded bomber: 'Using water injection I gained on him, firing all the time, seeing strikes at the wing roots and behind the cockpit. The enemy aircraft lost speed and chandelled up to the left. I followed firing intermittently and saw him jettison his canopy. I fired another burst and he rolled over on his back at about 1,000 feet. I was about 800 yards behind at this time. I continued my turn and saw him floating down in a parachute and his ship hit and burn in a wooded section. I climbed back to 18,000 feet with my wingman and proceeded home."- From the IWW.
A few minutes after this picture was snapped they were in the air on their bomber-escort mis.sion into Germany. All three pilots would survive the war as decorated heroes. The conditions these brave pilots flew in are incredible. Nicknamed "Little Friends" by the bomber crews they would escort the bombers to their targets as far as possible until they had to turn around due to fuel or other issues. In 1943 the only fighter escort bombers had was the P-47 "Thunderbolt" which did not have adequate range to guide B-17s all the way to their target leaving them very vulnerable during and shortly after the bomb run. Nevertheless it proved still to be an effective dogfighter and bomber when it encountered enemy fighters and ground targets. The fighter escorts would form a tight triangular formation and keep their eyes peeled for fighters. Continued down below ⬇️!