Fallen Warrior: Master Sgt. Henry E. Erwin

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  • By 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

Retired U.S Army Air Forces Master Sgt. Henry Erwin, 52nd Bombardment Squadron radio operator, native to Adamsville, Alabama, served in WWII.

On April 12, 1945 while engaged in aerial bombing over Koriyama, Japan, Erwin was tasked with dropping phosphoresce smoke bombs through a chute in the B-29 Superfortress.

Erwin had pulled a pin in a smoke bomb and dropped it though the chute, but a faulty smoke bomb ignited prematurely in the launching chute of the plane.

Burning at approximately 1,100 degrees, the phosphoresce bomb shot back into the aircraft. Without regard to his own safety, Erwin heroically grasped the burning white bomb, blindly feeling his way through the plane to the cockpit and throwing it from the co-pilot’s window.

Erwin’s gallantry saved the lives of his comrades and earned him the Medal of Honor, Purple Heart and two Air Medals. He received a disability discharge as a master sergeant in October 1947.

Editor's note: The Fallen Warrior series highlights Fallen Warriors who exemplify our core values and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Take a moment to honor this week’s hero.