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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army Air Corps

Harl Pease Jr.

  • Rank: Captain
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    Heavy Bombardment Squadron, 19th Bombardment Group, 509th Bombardment Wing,
    5th Air Force
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: August 6 - 7, 1942
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Rabaul, New Britian, New Britain
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on 6-7 August 1942. When one engine of the bombardment airplane of which he was a pilot failed during a bombing mission over New Guinea, Capt. Pease was forced to return to base in Australia. Knowing that all available airplanes of his group were to participate the next day in an attack on an enemy-held airdrome near Rabaul, New Britain, although he was not scheduled to take part in this mission, Capt. Pease selected the most serviceable airplane at this base and prepared it for combat, knowing that it had been found and declared unserviceable for combat missions. With the members of his combat crew, who volunteered to accompany him, he rejoined his squadron at Port Moresby, New Guinea, at 1 A.M. on 7 August, after having flown almost continuously since early in the preceding morning. With only three hours' rest, he took off with his squadron for the attack. Throughout the long flight to Rabaul, New Britain, he managed by skillful flying of his unserviceable airplane to maintain his position in the group. When the formation was intercepted by about 30 enemy fighter airplanes before reaching the target, Capt. Pease, on the wing which bore the brunt of the hostile attack, by gallant action and the accurate shooting by his crew, succeeded in destroying several Zeros before dropping his bombs on the hostile base as planned, this in spite of continuous enemy attacks. The fight with the enemy pursuit lasted 25 minutes until the group dived into cloud cover. After leaving the target, Capt. Pease's aircraft fell behind the balance of the group due to unknown difficulties as a result of the combat and was unable to reach this cover before the enemy pursuit succeeded in igniting one of his bomb bay tanks. He was seen to drop the flaming tank. It is believed that Capt. Pease's airplane and crew were subsequently shot down in flames, as they did not return to their base. In voluntarily performing this mission Capt. Pease contributed materially to the success of the group and displayed high devotion to duty, valor, and complete contempt for personal danger. His undaunted bravery has been a great inspiration to the officers and men of his unit.
Medal of Honor Recipient Harl Pease Jr.
Medal of Honor Recipient Harl Pease Jr.
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: December 2, 1942
    The White House, presented by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to his parents Mr. & Mrs. Harl Pease Sr.
  • Born: April 10, 1917, Plymouth, Grafton County, NH, United States
  • Died: October 8, 1942, Papua New Guinea
  • Buried: A.B.M.C. Manila Cemetery (Wall of the Missing), Manila, Philippine Islands

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