Fran Perkins and Phil Stillings have lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943

Phil Stillings shown left and Fran Perkins shown right just before their meeting as guests of Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady in the Fall of 1943 on Oahu, HI

Phil Stillings and Fran Perkins getting ready to give War Bond speeches on Oahu. They are recovering from wounds and put on a detail to help Eleanor Roosevelt, our First Lady, raise money through the sale of War Bonds to civic groups around Oahu, Hawaii.

Fran is one of the eleven heroes from the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae.

Two Heroes and Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943

Eleanor Roosevelt with two heroes from the Daisy Mae
First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, surprising wounded warriors Fran Perkins and Robert Patterson for their heroics aboard the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae

The First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt surprise Ball Turret Gunner Fran Perkins shown in dark glasses and Radio Man Robert Patterson, by congratulating them on their heroism during the Last Flight of the Daisy Mae. The First Lady is autographing dollar bills along with the remarks, “Congratulations Sergeant Francis Perkins for shooting down four Jap Zeros, two confirmed and two probable,  on July 24, 1943. Sincerely, Eleanor Roosevelt”

This is just a few days after Fran Perkins received miraculous eye surgery from an Australian eye surgeon stationed at Hawaiian General Hospital. Fran’s buddy, Robert Patterson is also helping Fran walk, getting use to walking and moving about with only one good eye.

Robert Patterson, in spite of of being wounded with “hunks of metal sticking out of his legs,” was able to restore the damaged radio and transmit Morse Code to Midway Island, to alert the airfield that the Daisy Mae was still flying out there somewhere and preparing to land on Midway or ditch at sea. Patterson’s message said “Big Girl Coming Home. Big Girl Coming Home.” All personnel working in the control tower at Midway knew exactly what that message meant.

Midway Island prepared for the worst and had every able bodied soldier sailor and marine alert and ready to stand by the airfield to help extracting the wounded and dying aboard the severely damaged Daisy Mae

The Daisy Mae, herself had tricks up her sleeve to assist Pilot Joe Gall, and Co-pilot John Van Horn in a bizarre but safe landing. Over 800 bullet and cannon holes would be counted by the surviving crew and sailors the following day.

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11 heroes stand up against overwhelming odds on July 24, 1943