Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army Air Corps

John Louis Jerstad

  • Rank: Major
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    201st Provisional Combat Wing,
    9th Air Force
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: August 1, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: Ploesti, Rumania

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. On 1 August 1943, he served as pilot of the lead aircraft in his group in a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and installations at Ploesti, Rumania. Although he had completed more than his share of missions and was no longer connected with this group, so high was his conception of duty that he volunteered to lead the formation in the correct belief that his participation would contribute materially to the success of this attack. Maj. Jerstad led the formation into attack with full realization of the extreme hazards involved and despite withering fire from heavy and light anitaircraft guns. Three miles from the target his airplane was hit, badly damaged, and set on fire. Ignoring the fact that he was flying over a field suitable for a forced landing, he kept on the course. After the bombs of his aircraft were released on the target, the fire in his ship became so intense as to make further progress impossible and he crashed into the target area. By his voluntary acceptance of a mission he knew was extremely hazardous and his assumption of an intrepid course of action at the risk of life over and above the call of duty, Maj. Jerstad set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Medal of Honor Recipient John L. Jerstad
Medal of Honor Recipient John L. Jerstad
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Racine, Racine County, Wisconsin
  • Awarded Posthumously: Yes
  • Presentation Date & Details: November 21, 1943

    Presented in Racine, Wisconsin, to his parents.

  • Born: February 12, 1918, Racine, Racine County, WI, United States
  • Died: August 1, 1943, near Ploesti, Rumania
  • Buried: A.B.M.C. Ardennes Cemetery (C-24-10), Neuvile-En-Condroz, Belgium
  • Location of Medal: Racine Veterans Legacy Museum (duplicate Medal), Racine, WI

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