Tag Archives: Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress

Gott, Metzger, and “Lady Janet” (November 9, 1944)

On November 9, 1944, the United States Army Air Forces‘ Eighth Air Force launched a major raid against the city of Saarbrucken, Germany. Piloting one Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress of the 452nd Bombardment Group (Heavy)‘s 729th Bombardment Squadron was First Lieutenant Donald J. Gott (Born June 3, 1923; Arnett, Oklahoma). In the co-pilot’s seat was Second Lieutenant William E. Metzger, Jr. (Born February 9, 1922; Lima, Ohio).

Both of these men, aboard their plane nicknamed Lady Janet, were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their incredible courage on that day in trying to save the life of one of their crewmates who couldn’t bail out of their damaged craft.

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Second Lieutenant Robert E. Femoyer, USAAF (November 2, 1944)

Robert Edward Femoyer was born on Halloween, October 31, 1921 in Huntington, West Virginia. He was a student at Virginia Tech when he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on February 4, 1943.  Femoyer wanted to be a pilot, but didn’t pass the training and was assigned as a gunnery officer and navigator instead.

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TFH 4/11: First Lieutenant Edward S. Michael, USAAF

Edward Stanley Michael was born on May 2, 1918 in Chicago, Illinois. His enlistment record shows that he had been a machinist in civilian life and had completed three years of high school. Michael enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps on November 4, 1940 at age 22. His record indicates that he was going to be assigned to the Hawaiian Department, but his World War II experience would be in Europe, not the Pacific.

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TFH 2/20 Part 2: The Two Heroes of “Ten Horsepower” – Mathies & Truemper

The annals of American combat history are filled with stories of men who risked their lives to save those of their comrades. Earlier I posted the first of two Medal of Honor-worthy “so that others may live” stories from February 20, 1944, that of First Lieutenant William R. Lawley, Jr. Two other airmen belonging to the United States Army Air Forces predecessor of the present day United States Air Force aboard a single Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, serial number 42-21763 and nicknamed Ten Horsepower, provide us with the second.

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TFH 2/20 Part 1: First Lieutenant William R. Lawley, Jr., USAAF

William Robert Lawley, Jr. was born in Leeds, Alabama on August 23, 1920. He lived there throughout his childhood, graduating from high school in 1938. With the United States’ entry into the Second World War, Lawley didn’t wait for his name to be called in the draft and volunteered for the United States Army Air Corps on April 9, 1942. Lawley also volunteered for pilot training and received his wings along with his officer’s commission about one year after his enlistment in April 1943.

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TFH 12/20: Technical Sergeant Forrest L. Vosler, USAAF

Forrest Lee Vosler was born in Lyndonville, New York on July 29, 1923. During 1942, as his friends from his hometown were being drafted for World War II military service, he decided not to wait for his name to be called, and volunteered by enlisting in the United States Army Air Corps on October 8, 1942.

Vosler had hoped to be a pilot, but his poor performance on the required aptitude tests saw the Air Corps send him to be trained as a radioman instead. Then, he faced another challenge. At the time, there was a 6-foot height limit to be approved for flight status; Vosler was 6′ 3″. He had volunteered to fight for his country, and his determined requests to be assigned to a bomber unit eventually paid off.

The service relented on the height restriction and deployed him to England for service with the 358th Bombardment Squadron of the 303d Bombardment Group (Heavy), part of the United States Army Air Forces‘ VIII Bomber Command, the forerunner of today’s Eighth Air Force of the United States Air Force and Global Strike Command.

After Vosler’s first combat mission to bomb Bremen on November 26, 1943 (83rd mission of the 303d), he was convinced that there was no way he’d survive his 25-mission tour of duty. At the time, the average crewmember longevity was eleven missions.

On December 20, 1943, Vosler boarded Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress 42-29664, named Jersey Bounce Jr., with his nine crewmates for what would be his fourth mission (303d mission 90) over enemy territory. Continue reading TFH 12/20: Technical Sergeant Forrest L. Vosler, USAAF

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