Chief Master Sergeant (Ret.) Henry Fouts was an aerial gunner in the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), completing 35 combat missions over Nazi occupied Europe during World War II. Knowing he was going to be drafted when he became of age and not wanting to be a part of the ground infantry units, he read an article in Life Magazine which inspired Fouts to become an Aerial Gunner. During a bombing mission over Czechoslovakia on September 23, 1944, Fouts’s B-17S was badly damaged resulting in the aircraft having a loss of hydraulics, electrical systems and brakes. Fouts came up with the idea to deploy a parachute to stop the plane during landing and is believed to be the first person to use a parachute to help stop an aircraft with no brakes. As a result of his actions, Fouts received the Distinguished Flying Cross. He has also been awarded the Air Medal, Purple Heart and World War II Victory Medal.
Henry Fouts now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has been retired from active duty since 1977.