"Congratulations for an outstanding job on your f irst strike against the Japanese Mainland. This accomplishment is proof that every member of your team has done his part in a superior manner. Well done."

-26 Feb 1945, from Brig Gen John H. Davies, Commanding General, 313th Bomb Wing.

The people of the Sixth Bomb Group earned many awards for their combat operations. Their achievements were outstanding, and they received medals and commendations appropriate to their heroic deeds. Over 2250 combat awards were made to Sixth men individually in addition to the Group's four campaign stars to its Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon and its two Distinguished Unit Citations.


The Legion of Merit, the highest individual award received by any Sixth man, was presented to Col Kenneth H. Gibson, the Group Commanding Officer, in August. The award was for his outstanding services in leading the Sixth for fourteen months of training and combat. While a member of the Sixth, the Colonel was also awarded an Oak Leaf Cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross for his achievements in leading the Group on the first of the March Blitz missions over Tokyo.

Nine members of the Group were awarded the Silver Star medal for gallantry in action. Four of these awards were to airplane commanders, Capt Arthur M. Clay, Jr., Lt Jay K. Anderson and Lt Jack A. Henshaw of the 39th Squadron, and Lt Sam A. Parks, 24th Squadron. Lt Anderson and Lt Parks were decorated for their actions in bringing battle-damaged planes back to home fields on the Tokyo mission of 23 May. Capt Clay's award was for gallantry after the 25 May mission in bringing his ship to Iwo Jima where all crew members bailed out. Lt Henshaw's gallant action was on the Yawata mission of 7 August. His skill in flying his damaged aircraft to Okinawa for an emergency landing saved the lives of the entire crew.

Sgt Richard Neel, a member of Capt Clay's crew, received the Silver Star for staying at his post while wounded to assist in bringing the aircraft to Iwo Jima. There, he was bailed out within one hundred yards of a hospital.

Sgt Fannon and Sgt Slotter, both of the 24th Squadron, were awarded the Silver Star for their actions in manning their guns although wounded on the 7 April mission to Nagoya. Their fire staved off Jap fighters and saved the plane.

Lt Milton Garfinkle and S/Sgt Herman L. Anderson, bombardier and left gunner respectively on Capt Ramsey's crew of the 24th Squadron, were awarded Silver Stars for their gallantry in manning their positions after being wounded over Tokyo.

 

Twenty-three Sixth officers and men were awarded the Soldier's Medal for heroism in saving the lives of comrades. Sgt Albert and Sgt Lyczko of Lt Steel's crew of the 40th Squadron, were awarded the medal for their actions on 13 March in searching a burning airplane for a trapped comrade. Capt Dean J. Mutch, 24th Squadron airplane comander, received the award for saving the lives of his co-pilot and bombardier on the night of 22 April. On one mission his plane was forced to crash land at West Field, and after escaping from the burning plane, he returned to rescue two of his crew members. Unfortunately, no information is available concerning the award of the other twenty-one Soldier's Medals.

Fifty-three members of the Sixth Group were wounded in action and awarded the Purple Heart. First of these was awarded to Sgt Joe Duggan for wounds in action on the 19 February Tokyo raid. Several of the Purple Heart awards were made posthumously to Sixth men killed-in-action.

Oak Leaf Clusters to the Distinguished Flying Cross were presented to forty-one Sixth combat men, and 486 men received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Eight hundred ninety-six officers and men were awarded the Air Medal and 1680 combat crew members received Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal. Awards were made in this manner: five combat missions, the Air Medal; thirteen missions, one Oak Leaf Cluster to the Air Medal; twenty-one missions, a second Oak Leaf Cluster; twenty-nine missions, the third Oak Leaf Cluster. Twenty-one missions, if any of them were outstandingly successful, earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Bronze Star Medal awards were made to sixty-five officers and men. Four of these were awarded to engineering personnel after the March Blitz. Recipients were Major Baum, Capt Deterding, Capt Mudroch, and M/Sgt Beach. Capt Johnston was awarded this medal in August for directing ordnance activities all during the war. Major Speers and Major Tatum of Group Headquarters received the award in September. Crew chiefs were awarded this medal if their planes flew eighteen missions without an abort. No other information is available as to the award of Bronze Star Medals.


Campaign battle stars awarded Sixth personnel as a Group were the Aerial Offensive Against Japan, Western Pacific Campaign Star, Eastern Mandates Campaign Star and the China Offensive, Battle Star. These four stars will be worn on the Asiatic-Pacific Theater ribbon by Sixth men in the Group during the period of these campaigns. These awards and the blue bars of the unit citations to be worn on the right breast of the uniform make the Sixth Group one of the heaviest decorated units in the 20th Air Force.

Ceremonies presenting the medals were held in April, July and September. Brig Gen Davies attended the April 23rd presentation, Col Gibson presented medals to Group personnel at the Starlite Theater on the night of 21 July, and Lt Col Tucker presented awards to Sixth men in September.

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