The Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Medal of Honor Foundation regret to announce the passing of Medal of Honor Recipient Hiroshi “Hershey” Miyamura.

Congressional Medal of Honor Society

Stories of Sacrifice

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World War II - U.S. Army Air Corps

William Robert Lawley Jr.

  • Rank: First Lieutenant (Highest Rank: Colonel)
  • Conflict/Era: World War II
  • Unit/Command:
    364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group, 40th Combat Wing, 1st Air Division,
    8th Air Force
  • Military Service Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps
  • Medal of Honor Action Date: February 20, 1944
  • Medal of Honor Action Place: over Liepzig, Germany

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 the bombs could not be released because the racks were frozen. After the order to bail out had been given, one of the waist gunners informed the pilot that two 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. First 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 one 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.

Medal of Honor Recipient William R. Lawley Jr.
Medal of Honor Recipient William R. Lawley Jr.
Additional Details
  • Accredited to: Birmingham, Jefferson County, Alabama
  • Awarded Posthumously: No
  • Presentation Date & Details: August 8, 1944

    Headquarters U.S. Army Air Forces Europe, High Wycomb, England, presented by Lt. Gen. Carl A. Spaatz

  • Born: August 23, 1920, Leeds, Jefferson County, AL, United States
  • Died: May 29, 1999, Montgomery, AL, United States
  • Buried: Greenwood Cemetery (MH) (12-B-10-C-1), Montgomery, AL

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