William Robert Lawley, Jr

William Robert Lawley, Jr

Birth
Leeds, Jefferson County, Alabama, USA
Death 29 May 1999 (aged 78)
Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA
Burial Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA
Plot Section 12, Veterans' Field of Honor
Memorial ID 7133527 · View Source
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World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II as a First Lieutenant in the 364th Bomber Squadron, 305th Bomber Group. He was awarded the CMOH for his bravery in an air mission over Europe on February 20, 1944. His citation reads "For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty 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 bombs could not be released because the racks were frozen. After the order to bail out had been given, 1 of the waist gunners informed the pilot that 2 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. 1st 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 1 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." His was awarded his Medal on August 8, 1944. He remained in the United States Military service, and retired with the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force in 1972.

Bio by: Don Morfe


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Don Morfe
  • Added: 31 Jan 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7133527
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for William Robert Lawley, Jr (23 Aug 1920–29 May 1999), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7133527, citing Greenwood Cemetery, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .