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One of four airmen to receive the Medal of Honor during WWI, Harold Ernest Goettler was born in Chicago, Ill., July 21, 1890, and was killed in action, near Binarville, France, Oct. 6, 1918. Harold Goettler joined the Signal Enlisted Reserve Corps as a private first class in July 1917, and was called to active duty the following month. He was assigned to the School of Military Aeronautics at the University of Illinois for three months, and from October 1917 to January 1918, was stationed at Camp Mohawk, Canada, and Taliafero Field, Texas as a student. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and went overseas in February 1918 with the 28th Aero Squadron in England. He was transferred to the 50th Aero Squadron in France in August 1918 and lost his life Oct. 6, on a mission near Binarville, France. Flying with his observer, Second Lt. Erwin R. Bleckley, who also received the Medal of Honor for this extraordinary heroism, Lieutenant Goettler made a second trip the same day to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division, which had been cut off by the enemy in the Argonne Forest.
His Medal of Honor citation:
Awarded posthumously for actions during World War I
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to First Lieutenant (Air Service) Harold Ernest Goettler, United States Army Air Service, for extraordinary heroism in action at Binarville, France, 6 October 1918, while serving as Pilot, 50th Aero Squadron, 130th Field Artillery, Air Service, A.E.F. First Lieutenant Goettler, with his observer, Second Lieutenant Erwin R. Bleckley, 130th Field Artillery, left the airdrome late in the afternoon on their second trip to drop supplies to a battalion of the 77th Division which had been cut off by the enemy in the Argonne Forest. Having been subjected on the first trip to violent fire from the enemy, they attempted on the second trip to come still lower in order to get the packages even more precisely on the designated spot. In the course of this mission the plane was brought down by enemy rifle and machinegun fire from the ground, resulting in the instant death of First Lieutenant Goettler. In attempting and performing this mission First Lieutenant Goettler showed the highest possible contempt of personal danger, devotion to duty, courage and valor.
General Orders: War Department, General Orders 56 (December 30, 1922)
Action Date: 6-Oct-18
Service: Army Air Service
Rank: First Lieutenant
Company: Pilot, 50th Aero Squadron
Regiment: 130th Field Artillery
Division: American Expeditionary Forces