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Everyday Heroes: JOHN BLYTH

June 1, 2013

I recently received an email from a friend of mine about the exploits of the British Spitfire aircraft, described by the men who flew it during World War II as the “sweetest airplane you could ever fly.” But in the video (see below) that accompanied the email, I learned about a “flying sergeant” who was later promoted to be an officer. What intrigued me about this flying sergeant was that he was an American who was stationed in England to fly British Spitfires.

And then the story went from mildly interesting to really interesting.

This flying sergeant was assigned in 1942 to the 7 Farm, outside of Oxford, England. I was about to delete the email at this point, thinking that the story was dull and about to get even duller. But things turned dramatic when the video narrator told about a Spitfire pilot who, in September 1944, landed his plane “wheels up” due to a mechanical malfunction. Gee, that’s kind of interesting, I thought, as I watched the video. The pilot made a perfect landing on the plane’s belly and walked away uninjured from the aircraft.

The video showed the young man standing by his crippled aircraft, a cigarette in his mouth (which someone had given him despite the fact he didn’t smoke), looking a bit wondrous, not quite understanding what he had just accomplished. And then the story went from really interesting to really incredible.

You see, that flying sergeant, John S. Blyth, was about to be interviewed by the videographer. Blyth had settled in Seattle, Washington, where the videographer had tracked him via the tail number off that Spitfire: PA-944.

Blyth appeared to be a soft-spoken, unassuming octogenarian. When asked what he did in the war, he answers, “The day I was going to Berlin, they woke me up at 4 in the morning.”

The day I was going to Berlin!

It turns out John Blyth flew 51 missions over Germany, performing photo reconnaissance.

Okay, so that’s pretty incredible. But what I learned next was that Blyth flew 51 missions over Germany WITHOUT GUNs and WITHOUT FIGHTER ESCORT.

Alone, John Blyth flew over enemy territory, dodging anti-aircraft fire, to take pictures. Those pictures told stories about the effects of Allied bombing raids on Germany, located launching and manufacturing sites of the Germans’ V-Weapons systems, and probably shortened the war and saved many lives.

John Blyth received the Distinguished Flying Cross, returned to the United States after the war, and became just another good American citizen. Not enough people know that John Blyth is another Everyday Hero, just like many other Everyday Heroes who risk their lives in the interest of freedom.

We are losing countless World War II veterans every day, men and women who served countries all over the planet. If you know one of the few who are still with us, thank him or her today before it’s too late.

Joseph Badal
Joseph Badal is the author of Shell Game, a financial thriller, and five espionage/military thrillers, including The Lone Wolf Agenda, which will be released on June 25, 2013.


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