Colonel William R. Lawley, Jr.- Montgomery, AL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Sneakin Deacon
N 32° 22.212 W 086° 15.794
16S E 569311 N 3581709
Quick Description: Colonel William R. Lawley, Jr. was awarded the Medal of Honor for his action during World War II.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 5/11/2008 7:32:58 AM
Waymark Code: WM3RG4
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member GA Cacher
Views: 60

Long Description:
Colonel William R. Lawley, Jr., was born on August 23, 1920 and and became a member of the United States Air Force. On February 20, 1944, then First Lieutenant William Lawley was serving as a pilot in the 364th Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomb Group. On this day he was flying his B-17 Flying Fortress on a bombing mission over Nazi-Controlled Europe, when the aircraft came under attack by ememy fighters. As a result of the enemy attack Lieutenant Lawley and two of his crewmen were seriously wounded and the aircraft received severe damage. Lieutenant Lawley successfully piloted his damaged aircraft back to “friendly territory”, crash landing in England. As a result of his heroic actions Lieutenant William R. Lawley, Jr., was awarded the Medal of Honor on August 8, 1944. Lieutenant Lawley returned to the United States in September 1944 and served as public relations officer at Hendricks Field in Florida. He was promoted to Captain in 1945 and continued his military service as aide to General Muir S. Fairchild and later as administrative assistance to Major General David M. Schlatter. He was promoted to the rank of Major in August 1949, and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1950 and served as Assistant Air Attache in Brazil until 1954. He returned to the United States and attened the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell Air Force Base, and upon graduation he assumed command of the 55th Air Refueling Squadron at Forbes (KS) Air Force Base. On March 27, 1969, he was promoted to Colonel and later served as Assistant Phase Chief at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base. Colonel William R. Lawley, Jr., retired from military service in 1972, and continued to live in Montgomery, Alabama until his death on May 30, 1999. Colonel William R. Lawley, Jr., is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery Alabama.

Colonel Lawley’s Medal of Honor citation reads:

(Air Mission)
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 364th Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomber Group. Place and date: Over Europe, 20 February 1944. Entered service at: Birmingham, Ala. Born: 23 August 1920, Leeds, Ala. G.O. No.: 64, 8 August 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.
Armed Service: Air Force

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