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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army Air Corps

Jay Zeamer Jr.

  • Rank: Major (rank at time of action: Captain)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    65th Bombardment Squadron, 43d Bombardment Group,
    5th Air Force
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: June 16, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: over Buka area, Solomon Islands

On 16 June 1943, Maj. Zeamer (then Capt.) volunteered as pilot of a bomber on an important photographic mapping mission covering the formidably defended area in the vicinity of Buka, Solomon Islands. While photographing the Buka airdrome, his crew observed about 20 enemy fighters on the field, many of them taking off. Despite the certainty of a dangerous attack by this strong force, Maj. Zeamer proceeded with his mapping run, even after the enemy attack began. In the ensuing engagement, Maj. Zeamer sustained gunshot wounds in both arms and legs, one leg being broken. Despite his injuries, he maneuvered the damaged plane so skillfully that his gunners were able to fight off the enemy during a running flight which lasted 40 minutes. The crew destroyed at least five hostile planes, of which Maj. Zeamer himself shot down one. Although weak from loss of blood, he refused medical aid until the enemy had broken combat. He then turned over the controls, but continued to exercise command despite lapses into unconsciousness, and directed the flight to a base 580 miles away. In this voluntary action, Maj. Zeamer, with superb skill, resolution, and courage, accomplished a mission of great value.

Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Machias, Washington County, Maine
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: January 16, 1944

    The Pentagon, presented by Gen. Henry H. (Hap) Arnold in his office

  • Born: July 25, 1918, Carlisle, Cumberland County, PA, United States
  • Died: March 22, 2007, Boothbay Harbor, ME, United States
  • Buried: Arlington National Cemetery Section 34, 809-4, Arlington, VA, United States
  • Location of Medal: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH

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