William Overstreet Jr., a former captain in the U.S. Air Corps, passed away on Sunday at a hospital in Roanoke,Virgina. He famously flew his plane beneath the Eiffel Tower in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, lifting the spirits of French troops on the ground.
Overstreet was presented with France’s Legion of Honour in 2009. Before the ceremony, Overstreet had previously said that, if he lived long enough to receive the Legion of Honor, he would be accepting it in memory of his fallen brothers. In particular, he wanted to pay tribute to a friend, Eddy Simpson, who died fighting the Nazis on the ground so his comrades, including Overstreet, could escape.After the award was pinned to his lapel, Overstreet said: ‘If I said, “Thank you,” it wouldn’t be enough,’ before adding: ‘What more
than “thank you” do you need?’
Overstreet was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia in 1921 and after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Air Corps as a fighter pilot. By February 1942, he was a private and sent to California for flight training.
He is remembered as someone who ‘was always humble.’ ‘Whenever the press interviewed him, he said, “I didn’t do anything, we were a team.”‘ We at the Memorial Library express our deepest condolences to the Overstreet family. RIP Bill Overstreet.