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Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army Air Corps

Neel Earnest Kearby

  • Rank: Colonel
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    309th Bombardment Wing,
    5th Air Force
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: October 11, 1943
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: near Wewak, New Guinea

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy, Col. Kearby volunteered to lead a flight of four fighters to reconnoiter the strongly defended enemy base at Wewak. Having observed enemy installations and reinforcements at four airfields, and secured important tactical information, he saw an enemy fighter below him, made a diving attack, and shot it down in flames. The small formation then sighted approximately 12 enemy bombers accompanied by 36 fighters. Although his mission had been completed, his fuel was running low, and the numerical odds were 12 to 1, he gave the signal to attack. Diving into the midst of the enemy airplanes he shot down three in quick succession. Observing one of his comrades with two enemy fighters in pursuit, he destroyed both enemy aircraft. The enemy broke off in large numbers to make a multiple attack on his airplane, but despite his peril he made one more pass before seeking cloud protection. Coming into the clear, he called his flight together and led them to a friendly base. Col. Kearby brought down six enemy aircraft in this action, undertaken with superb daring after his mission was completed.

Medal of Honor Recipient Neel E. Kearby
Medal of Honor Recipient Neel E. Kearby
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Dallas, Collin County, Texas
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: January 23, 1944

    Brisbane, Australia, presented by Gen. Douglas MacArthur

  • Born: June 5, 1911, Wichita Falls, Wichita County, TX, United States
  • Died: March 5, 1944, near Wewak, New Guinea
  • Buried: Hillcrest Memorial Park (MH) (13-51), Dallas, TX, United States
  • Location of Medal: National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH ; University of Texas at Arlington (duplicate Medal), Arlington, TX

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