Church, Russell Morse, Jr., 1st Lt

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Last Rank
First Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1055-Pilot, Single-Engine Fighter
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1940-1941, AAF MOS 1055, 24th Pursuit Group, Interceptor
Service Years
1939 - 1941
USAAFOfficer Collar Insignia
First Lieutenant

 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 Church, Russell Morse, Jr., 1st Lt.

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.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Dumont, New Jersey
Last Address
Clark Field, Philippines

Casualty Date
Dec 16, 1941
Hostile, Died
Air Loss, Crash - Land
World War II
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Section 34, Site 4751

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 Military Associations and Other Affiliations
World War II Fallen
  2013, World War II Fallen

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Pilot Badge

 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
17th Pursuit Squadron, InterceptorUS Air Force
  1940-1941, AAF MOS 1055, 17th Pursuit Squadron, Interceptor
  1940-1941, AAF MOS 1055, 24th Pursuit Group, Interceptor
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1941 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Philippine Islands Campaign (1941-42)
 My Aircraft/Missiles
P-35 Seversky  P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk  
  1941-1941, P-35 Seversky
  1941-1941, P-40 Warhawk/Kittyhawk
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
While bombing and strafing a Japanese airfield at Vigan, Luzon, Philippines, his aircraft was shot down by enemy ground fire and he was killed in the crash.

Synopsis of his DSC citation:
Awarded posthumously for actions during World War II
(Citation Needed) - SYNOPSIS: First Lieutenant (Air Corps) Russel M. Church (ASN: 0-374264), United States Army Air Forces, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-40 Fighter Airplane in the 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group, FAR EAST Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 16 December 1941, during an air mission over Vigan, Philippine Islands. Together with First Lieutenant Boyd Wagner, First Lieutenant Church undertook the hazardous mission of dive bombing the enemy-held airfield at Vigan in the Philippine Islands. When they had reached the target area, Lieutenant Wagner signaled Lieutenant Strauss in a third fighter to remain on patrol, while he and Lieutenant Church proceeded to bomb the airfield. As they went into a dive, Lieutenant Church's plane was hit and set afire by anti-aircraft fire, but he continued the attack, released his bombs, and crashed to his death. First Lieutenant Church's unquestionable valor in aerial combat, at the cost of his life, is in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Force, and the United States Army Air Forces.

General Orders: Headquarters, U.S. Army Forces in the Far East, General Orders No. 52 (1941)

Action Date: 16-Dec-41

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: 17th Pursuit Squadron

Regiment: 24th Pursuit Group

Division: Far East Air Force


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