Family donates historic revolver to museum
By Staff Sgt. Cortchie Welch, 369th Recruiting Squadron Public Affairs
/ Published February 12, 2003
LOS ANGELES (AFPN) -- A .38-caliber Smith and Wesson service revolver used by a World War II hero to shoot down a German attack plane will soon be on display at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
The family of retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paul Posti Sr., who died in December at age 89, donated the weapon to the museum during a tribute to the hero in Santa Monica on Feb. 4. His leather bomber jacket was also donated to the museum.
As a B-17 Flying Fortress tailgunner, Posti shot down a German Messerschmidt ME-109 with his revolver in 1942.
Officials disputed the achievement until a few days later when Capt. Clark Gable presented proof of the kill. Gable, who left his movie career to become an aerial photographer with the U.S. Army Air Force, took Posti into a darkroom and ran off a strip of movie film. The captain had operated a gun camera aboard another bomber during the mission and filmed the German plane in its death dive.
The kill was the only feat of its kind in World War II and has not been repeated since. The achievement helped the Boston native earn a Silver Star, the nation's third-highest decoration for heroism.
Donating the historical items to the museum was a long-time dream for Posti.
Posti "said on many occasions that he wanted the gun and jacket to be donated to the museum for everyone to see after he passed away, instead of being tucked away in the corner of the closet," said his wife, Irene. "In my heart, I know he's celebrating this occasion."