Just before World War II's Battle of Midway at sea, the Japanese were preparing to attack the Pacific island of Midway itself. In hopes of blunting such, in early June, 1942, B-26 bomber pilot James Muri and crew flew from that island to attack the gathered Japanese fleet. His bomber, and others, were hit repeatedly by machine gun fire from swarming enemy fighters, leaving three of his crew wounded. Courageously flying ahead, he launched a torpedo at the Japanese carrier, "Akagi." Then followed, an amazing maneuver that saved his crew and secured pilot Jim Muri's permanent place in combat aircraft lore. Instead of pulling up and away from the carrier, exposing his bomber to close-in, blistering fire from the enemy carrier, he, instead, flew straight down the length of the Akagi's deck, at extremely low level, scattering its sailors, and evading a certain death-sentence at the hands of that carrier's guns. His B-26 riddled by hundreds of bullets during his initial-approach to the enemy carrier group, Jim Muri was able to nurse the plane all the way back to Midway, where he made other than a soft landing! For their courage in the face of what was, initially, an overwhelming force, Muri and his crew earned the Army's Distinguished Service Cross. As you who are familiar with American history know, the bravery of our sailors and airmen at the Battle of Midway turned the tide in our long and painful journey to victory throughout the Pacific.
Jim Muri passed away peacefully, February 6th, in Billings, Montana. He was 93. We, as a nation, owe more than we could ever repay to all those who, during the early-1940's, with so much of the world ablaze, left the comparative comfort and security of home, to face the losses and unrelenting-brutality of combat, those many thousands of miles away, to regain and preserve the freedom from tyranny that American and Allied generations have been truly blessed with, to this day.