The Ultimate Sacrifice

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The Ultimate Sacrifice

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Image size: 17” x 22”

Overall print size: 22” X 25”

On August 18, 1943, Maj. Ralph Cheli led a strike group from the 38th Bomb Group in an attack against the Japanese airstrip at Dagua, New Guinea, as a part of an all-out low-level B-25 strafer attack against the four airfields in the Wewak complex. Already fighting bad weather across the northern coast of New Guinea, Maj. Cheli’s unit was attacked by roughly ten 59 Sentai Oscars. Soon thereafter, one of the fighters made a five o’clock pass at the lead B-25, its fire ripping into the right engine. Maj. Cheli’s wing burst into flames and he rapidly began losing power as black smoke poured from the engine nacelle and wing. Despite a severely damaged aircraft, Cheli selflessly refused to relinquish leadership of the formation, and continuing his attack across the target, strafing and dispersing his load of parafrag bombs as he went. Only when the attack run was well underway, did he finally turn way out to sea where he quickly ditched the flaming aircraft. His crew was soon captured by the Japanese, and all were eventually executed. Maj. Cheli was subsequently awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions that day, continuing to lead his force in the attack even though his aircraft was fatally damaged.

Short Description

Published in 1995 in cooperation with the 38th Bomb Group Association, this set of four limited edition squadron prints vividly and accurately captures some of the most outstanding and dramatic moments of combat flying in the Southwest Pacific during World War II. Painted by well-known aviation artist Steve Ferguson and researched by Lawrence J. Hickey, these prints depict the 38th Bomb Group’s service with the low level B-25 strafer attack aircraft on key missions against Japanese airfields, shipping and industrial targets.

The prints illustrate the famous raids on Dagua Airdrome (Wewak) on August 18, 1943; the daring attack by the Fifth Air Force on the Japanese bastion at Rabaul on November 2, 1943; the vicious ordeal over the Japanese reinforcement convoy at Ormoc Bay, Leyte, on November 10, 1944; and finally the devastating attacks on the Japanese fuel alcohol industry on Formosa, represented by the raid on Tairin on May 29, 1945.

All images are printed on top-quality heavy art stock and are signed and numbered by the artist in a limited edition of 450 prints plus 50 artist proofs. Ten veterans from each squadron, chosen for their service with the unit during World War II, also individually signed each print. This includes a squadron commander and members from each crew position on the B-25 strafer, as well as a ground officer and enlisted man. The squadron insignia appears in full color on the lower margin along with the Fifth Air Force insignia and a gold foil commemorative logo for the 50th Anniversary of the air war in World War II. A certificate of authenticity accompanies each print, documenting the history of the mission and its importance in the Pacific air war. Biographical information and a short service history are also provided on each signer of the print.

For additional information, view the flyer (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).

Additional Information

LEP choice

The Ultimate Sacrifice, Ordeal at Ormoc Bay, One Minute in Hell, The Alcohol Busters of Formosa, Set of four prints

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