Eareckson, William Olmstead, Col

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1060-Bombardment Unit Commander
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1952-1954, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Service Years
1918 - 1954
Officer Collar Insignia

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Eareckson, William Olmstead, Col USAF(Ret).

If you knew or served with this Airman and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Contact Info
Home Town
Baltimore, Maryland
Last Address
Sarasota, Florida

Date of Passing
Oct 26, 1966
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 37 Grave 692

 Official Badges 

Headquarters Air Force Air Training Command Instructor (pre-1966) Commander Air Force Retired

 Unofficial Badges 

US Army Honorable Discharge Cold War Medal

 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
Air Force Memorial (AFM)
  2017, Air Force Memorial (AFM) - Assoc. Page

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
He served in WWI, WWII, and the Korean War.  He is best known for being an innovative commander of combat operations against the Japanese in the Aleutians Campaign in WWII.
Eareckson Air Station, Shemya, Aleutian Islands, Alaska is named for him.

Synopsis of his DSC citation:
Awarded for actions during World War II
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: Colonel (Air Corps) William Olmstead Eareckson (AFSN: 239A), United States Army Air Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy in aerial combat while serving as Pilot of a B-26 Medium Bomber and as Commander, 11th Bomber Command, ELEVENTH Air Force, while participating in a bombing mission against enemy Japanese surface targets during the period 3 to 18 June 1942, in the Aleutian Islands, Territory of Alaska. On that date, Japanese carrier planes attacked ill-prepared Dutch Harbor on Unalaska Island. Colonel Eareckson led a flight of B-26s through impossible weather in an attempt to find and attack the Japanese fleet with torpedoes, which he had scrounged from the Navy. After two relatively unsuccessful attacks, the enemy fleet withdrew and occupied Attu and Kiska Islands at the western end of the Aleutian chain. Colonel Eareckson's bombers attacked enemy island bases and shipping whenever fog and gale-force winds permitted. Colonel Eareckson earned the respect and devotion of his men by flying in every position--from left-seater to tailgunner. The Aleutian campaign ended with the Japanese evacuation of Kiska in August 1943. The personal courage and zealous devotion to duty displayed by Colonel Eareckson during this period have upheld the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the 11th Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

General Orders: Headquarters, Alaska Defense Command, General Orders No. 61 (July 16, 1942)

Action Date: June 3 - 18, 1942

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: Colonel

Company: Commander

Regiment: 11th Bomber Command

Division: 11th Air Force

His Navy Cross citation:
Awarded for actions during World War II
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) William Olmstead Eareckson, United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism while participating in aerial flight while serving with the Bomber Command, ELEVENTH Air Force, during the seizure and occupation of enemy-held Attu Island, Territory of Alaska, from June 1942 to August 1942. Upon one occasion during these operations, Colonel Eareckson personally piloted his aircraft into a fog-shrouded and narrow pass on Attu Island to lead a supply plane to a group of U.S. troops suffering from exhaustion and frostbite. The supplies thus delivered undoubtedly contributed materially to the saving of their lives. Throughout the assault on Attu, Colonel Eareckson repeatedly flew extremely close to enemy anti-aircraft gun positions, deliberately drawing their fire, thus causing them to reveal their positions. He followed up these tactics by directing air attacks against the enemy positions so revealed, which resulted in neutralizing or destroying them. In addition, Colonel Eareckson made daily reconnaissance flights over and around Attu Island, and did so on days on which low ceiling and visibility prevented all other aircraft from taking off. His conduct throughout was in accordance with the highest traditions of the United States Military and Naval Forces.

Action Date: June 1942 - August 1942

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: Colonel

Company: Bomber Command

Division: 11th Air Force

Other Comments:
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 Ribbon Bar

Aviator (Command)
Balloon Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
US Army (USA)United States Army Air ServiceUnited States Army Air Corps (USAAC)Aviation Cadet Flight School
United States Army Air Corps (USAAC)36th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy28th Bombardmemt Group, Heavy28th Composite Group
United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)US Navy (USN)11th Air ForceSecond Air Force (2nd Air Force)
Air Force Bases/ InstallationsUS EmbassyUS Air ForceHeadquarters Command (HQ USAF)
Goose Bay Air BaseMilitary Air Transport Service (MATS)580th Air Resupply and Communications WingUS Air Force
  1918-1920, US Army (USA)
  1924-1926, United States Army Air Service
  1926-1930, United States Army Air Corps (USAAC)
  1930-1930, AAF MOS 770, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1930-1939, AAF MOS 770, United States Army Air Corps (USAAC)
  1939-1940, AAF MOS 1060, 36th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy
  1940-1941, AAF MOS 1063, 28th Bombardmemt Group, Heavy
  1940-1942, 28th Composite Group
  1942-1942, AAF MOS 1060, XI Bomber Command
  1942-1943, US Navy (USN)
  1943-1943, 11th Air Force
  1943-1943, US Navy (USN)
  1943-1944, US Navy (USN)
  1944-1945, Second Air Force (2nd Air Force)
  1945-1945, 359th Army Air Base Unit
  1946-1946, US Embassy
  1947-1947, 95th Fighter Squadron - Boneheads
  1948-1950, Headquarters Command (HQ USAF)
  1950-1950, Goose Bay Air Base
  1950-1950, US Army (USA)
  1951-1951, Military Air Transport Service (MATS)
  1951-1951, 580th Air Resupply and Communications Wing
  1952-1954, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1918-1918 World War I
  1941-1945 World War II1
  1942-1942 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater
  1942-1943 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Aleutian Islands Campaign (1942-43)
  1943-1943 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)
  1944-1944 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Air Offensive Campaign Japan (1942-45)
  1950-1951 Korean War
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military AcademyUniversity of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  1920-1924, United States Military Academy
  1945-1946, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-18 Bolo  P-36 Hawk  B-25 Mitchell  P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk  
B-17 Flying Fortress  B-24 Liberator  B-26 Marauder  C-119 Flying Boxcar  
B-29 Superfortress  HU/SU-16 Albatross  
  1939-1942, B-18 Bolo
  1940-1942, P-36 Hawk
  1941-1942, B-25 Mitchell
  1941-1942, P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk
  1942-1942, B-17 Flying Fortress
  1942-1942, B-24 Liberator
  1942-1942, B-26 Marauder
  1951-1951, C-119 Flying Boxcar
  1951-1951, B-29 Superfortress
  1951-1951, HU/SU-16 Albatross
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