|Vice Admiral Davies|
On this day in 1915, the first combat "search and rescue" mission using an aircraft was successfully carried out. It occurred during a misunderstanding that later came to be known as WWI. (For further research on that affair, just Google up "most pointless war ever.")
The story starts with a bombing mission by two British pilots that went south when "his machine was received by very heavy fire and brought down." Apparently that's how the Brits in charge of giving out medals back then described getting your freakin' plane blown out from underneath your ass by enemy fire.
The poor bloke, a certain "Flight Sub-Lieutenant Gilbert Formby Smylie, R.N." (the RN apparently means Royal Navy, not registered nurse) didn't even have time to drop his bombs before they riddled his plane with enough lead to force him to land. So he dumped all his bombs (except the one that wouldn't release -1915 technology ya know) and brought the crippled machine to earth behind enemy lines.
That's when his fellow pilot, a guy named Richard Bell Davies, a relative of the author of this piece, (okay, I made that up in an effort to connect myself to heroism) looped back to see what happened to his buddy Gilbert. What he saw was Gilbert on the ground below lighting fire to what remained of his plane so that it wouldn't fall into enemy hands.
Prior to all this, while Davies was coming down to get him, Smylie figured out that the bomb he was depending upon to blow up his plane after he set fire to it, was likely to go off just as Davies got there and blow him up, too. So he ran back to the burning wreckage and used his pistol to set off the explosion before that could happen.
It seems to me that these two guys had big enough stones to build a henge.
In the end, Davies got a well deserved "Victoria Cross" and Smylie got a "Distinguished Service Cross" and I got to write this swell account of their heroic feats.
Editors note... I actually am related to another heroic pilot named Davies. His name was Albert Davies. He was my uncle and he was a B-17 pilot who was shot down and killed while helping to defeat an ass-hat named Adolf about thirty years later. So next time you are making toasts to war heroes in your local pub, lift one to pilots named Davies. Somewhere, two unrelated guys will be tipping their glasses back at ya.