On this day in 1892 the German airman Theo Osterkamp was born. He is particularly interesting because he flew military aircraft in both World Wars. Indeed, Osterkamp shot down enemy planes in both wars. He was about three years younger than Adolf Hitler, so that during the World War I he was in his 20s, and during World War II in his late 40s and early 50s.
Theo Osterkamp achieved as many as 32 air victories during World War I, so that he got the status of “fighter ace”. For example, Hermann Goering had 22 victories in the same war. Theo Osterkamp, because of his merits in that war, was given the highest military decoration – Pour le Mérite – also known as the “Blue Max” (also awarded to the mentioned Hermann Göring and young Erwin Rommel).
In World War II, Theo Osterkamp flew in the Battle of France, already bearing the high rank of colonel and the position “Geschwaderkommodore” (commander of the aviation unit). He shot down four planes, and two more in an attack on the UK. He was promoted to Major General (Generalmajor) and appointed to the even higher position of “Jagdfliegerführer” i.e. commander of the fighter aircraft in the second German air fleet (Luftflotte 2). Interestingly, he was dismissed in 1944, after he criticized the supreme command of the Luftwaffe. He died in his native Germany at the rather advanced age of 82 years.