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Captain Harl Pease
United States Army Air Force

(Posthumous) Pilot of B-17E "Why Don't We Do This More Often" Serial Number 41-2429

Background
Born April 10, 1917 in Plymouth, New Hampshire. Attended University of New Hampshire (UNH) class of 1939 and became a brother of Theta Chi Fraternity.

After graduation with his degree in Business Administration, Pease enlisted in the US Army Air Corps.
During June 1940 commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and earned his flight wings at Kelly Field, Texas. Assigned to the 19th Bombardment Group as a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot based at Albuquerque Army Air Base. During October 1941 piloted a B-17 across the Pacific, departing Hamilton Field across the Pacific to Clark Field in the Philippines.

Wartime Service
As part of the Far East Air Force (FEAF) Pease witnessed the Japanese attack on Clark Field on December 8, 1941 Pease was at Clark Field during the Japanese attack on the Philippines and flew combat missions in defense of the Philippines. He was part of the flight of B-17s that evacuated General MacArthur from Del Monte Airfield to Darwin. Until February 1942, Pease participated in the Java campaign, the Battle of the Coral Sea and bombing missions in New Guinea.

Medal of Honor (August 7, 1942) Posthumous
Citation: Medal of Honor"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on 6-7 August 1942. When 1 engine of the bombardment airplane of which he was pilot failed during a bombing mission over New Guinea, Capt. Pease was forced to return to a 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 the preceding morning. With only 3 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 1 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."

 

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