Nicholas Mainiero received his Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as a Pilot attached to Marine Fighting Squadron 441, Fourth Marine Aircraft Wing, during action against enemy Japanese forces in the Marshall Islands Area, from 7 March to 14 December 1944. Participating in fifty successful strikes against strategic enemy-held island bases, Second Lieutenant Mainiero carried out each daring mission with skill and courage blasting his assigned targets and inflicting upon the Japanese great losses in personnel and equipment. Although his plane was damaged during one attack, he pressed home a bold low-level strafing run at Wotje Island
through deadly antiaircraft and coastal gunfire, covering units engaged in the rescue of a pilot shot down into the water. In subsequent strikes, he scored direct bomb hits upon a personnel shelter, a light automatic weapons position, and a special target at Mille, Emidj and Jabor Islands respectively.
Flying as a division leader on 14 December, Second Lieutenant Mainiero blasted one of the enemy’s 20-mm guns and, following his bombing run, was returning to strafe hostile positions around the weapon when an antiaircraft projectile exploded inside his plane, blinding him in one eye and inflicting a deep wound in his right arm. Continuing the attack despite his great pain and severe physical disability, he succeeded in blowing up an ammunition supply dump and, applying a tourniquet to his wounded arm. Returned to his based and executed a safe landing. His superb airmanship, gallant fortitude, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave danger were inspiring to the personnel of Marine Fighting Squadron 441 and reflect the highest credit upon Second Lieutenant Mainiero and the United States Naval Service.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to any officer or enlisted member of the United States Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself in support of operations by “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight, subsequent to November 11, 1918.”
Nick went on to become the manager of Bridgeport Airport and spearheaded to recovery of a Corsair fighter to be put on display at the Airport as a memorial to the men and women who built and operated them during the war.
Nick currently lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut with his wife.