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Lawley, William Robert, Jr. "Bill"

Date of birth:
August 23rd, 1920 (Leeds/Alabama, United States)
Date of death:
May 29th, 1999
Nationality:
American (1776 - present, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
1st Lieutenant
Unit:
364th Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomber Group, U.S. Army Air Forces
Awarded on:
August 8th, 1944
"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty, 20 February 1944, while serving as pilot of a B-17 aircraft on a heavy bombardment mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe. Coming off the target he was attacked by approximately 20 enemy fighters, shot out of formation, and his plane severely crippled. Eight crewmembers were wounded, the copilot was killed by a 20-mm. shell. One engine was on fire, the controls shot away, and 1st Lt. Lawley seriously and painfully wounded about the face. Forcing the copilot's body off the controls, he brought the plane out of a steep dive, flying with his left hand only. Blood covered the instruments and windshield and visibility was impossible. With a full bomb load the plane was difficult to maneuver and bombs could not be released because the racks were frozen. After the order to bail out had been given, 1 of the waist gunners informed the pilot that 2 crewmembers were so severely wounded that it would be impossible for them to bail out. With the fire in the engine spreading, the danger of an explosion was imminent. Because of the helpless condition of his wounded crewmembers 1st Lt. Lawley elected to remain with the ship and bring them to safety if it was humanly possible, giving the other crewmembers the option of bailing out. Enemy fighters again attacked but by using masterful evasive action he managed to lose them. One engine again caught on fire and was extinguished by skillful flying. 1st Lt. Lawley remained at his post, refusing first aid until he collapsed from sheer exhaustion caused by loss of blood, shock, and the energy he had expended in keeping control of his plane. He was revived by the bombardier and again took over the controls. Coming over the English coast 1 engine ran out of gasoline and had to be feathered. Another engine started to burn and continued to do so until a successful crash landing was made on a small fighter base. Through his heroism and exceptional flying skill, 1st Lt. Lawley rendered outstanding distinguished and valorous service to our Nation."
Medal of Honor - Army (MoH)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Colonel
"For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States, culminating in 1972. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Colonel Lawley culminate a long and distinguished career in the service of his country and his dedicated contributions in the Service of his Country reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."
Legion of Merit - US Military
Command Pilot Badge

Sources

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