Carlton B. Hutchins and the PBY’s
Lieutenant Hutchins Medal of Honor for flying a burning plane till he died
Carlton B. Hutchins was flying his PBY Catalina on a training exercise when it was struck by a fellow PBY. Mortally wounded and the plane burning, he kept it in the air to let all the crew eject and parachute to safety. He then brought the plane to a perfect landing on the water. Professional to the end. It takes Valor to spend your last moments saving someone else’s life.
The PBY Catalina was old when WW2 started but remained one of the most iconic airplanes of WW2. From long range patrols, to picking up survivors of sinking ships, to bombing enemy shipping and submarine, and essentially doing everything asked of it the PBY’s were arguably one of the most valuable airplanes ever invented. They are still in operation today mostly as fire/rescue and personal use aircraft. A PBY was used to pick up and safeguard the survivors of the USS Indianapolis which sank with over 900 men being eaten by sharks. Only 300 survived and most due to the PBYs.