March 18, 1945

1,329 Allied bombers and 700 long-range fighters meet heavy resistance by German jets and fighters over Berlin. The 8th Air Force loses six Mustangs and 13 bombers while the Lutwaffe, using the new jet powered Me 262s and air-to-air rockets, lose only two planes, despite being outnumbered 32 to 1.

April 7, 1945

Germany sends out 120 student pilots to face 1,000 American bombers in a suicidal operation. In a plan approved by Hitler, pilots are ordered to ram their planes into the American fleet and attempt to parachute to safety. Only a few German attackers will hit the bombers, and 3/4 of the Luftwaffe fighter pilots will be killed in action.

April 10, 1945

In what will become known as the “day of the great jet massacre,” Allied aircraft shoot down half of the German Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter planes. The loss proves fatal to the Luftwaffe and the defense of Berlin is abandoned.

April 12, 1945

U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt dies, leaving Vice President Harry Truman in charge.

Carl Spaatz declares that the Strategic Air War has been “brought to a close” and “won with a decisiveness becoming increasingly evident as our armies overrun Germany.”

April 17, 1945

The 8th Air Force bombs train yards in Dresden, Germany, killing 500 civilians.

April 25. 1945

The Luftwaffe shoots down five Allied bombers in a mission over Aussig, Czechoslovakia. These will be the last planes lost to the Luftwaffe.

April 26, 1945: The Road to Victory

American and Soviet Armies meet at the Elbe River.

April 30, 1945

With Soviet troops fewer than 500 meters away, Adolf Hitler commits suicide in a bunker by a combination of cyanide poisoning and a gunshot wound to the head.

May 7, 1945

The German Army surrenders to the Allied expeditionary force in Reims.

May 8, 1945

V-E Day — Europeans flock to the streets in celebration of the victory over the Nazis one day after the German Army surrendered to the Allied expeditionary force in Reims.

May 19, 1945

The 8th Air Force begins to return to the United States, but soon redeploys to the Pacific Theater where they will be reassigned to Okinawa under Lieutenant General Jimmy Doolittle, with the mission to organize and train new bomber groups for combat against Japan.

August 6, 1945

The Enola Gay, part of the USAAF's 509th Composite Group, drops the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.

August 15, 1945

V-J Day — Japan surrenders to the Allies, officially ending World War II. Emperor Hirohito announces the unconditional surrender over Japanese radio, accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration.

September 17, 1945

The Air Force becomes its own arm of the American Military, releasing its tie to the Army.

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My American Experience

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  • DIG: Rodger and Dawn Nordblom, founding members of the DIG (Bombing)