Eareckson, William Olmstead, Col

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 1060-Bombardment Unit Commander
Last AFSC Group
Primary Unit
1952-1954, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Service Years
1918 - 1954

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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 

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

Air Force Retired

 Unofficial Badges 

US Army Honorable Discharge Cold War Medal

 Military Association Memberships
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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  1924-1926, United States Army Air Service

Second Lieutenant
From Month/Year
June / 1924
To Month/Year
July / 1926
United States Army Air Service Unit Page
Second Lieutenant
Not Specified
Not Specified
United States
 United States Army Air Service Details

United States Army Air Service
Garrison - Command Element
Parent Unit
Major Commands
Created/Owned By
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Last Updated: May 22, 2018
Memories For This Unit

Other Memories
He graduated with a commission as a 2d Lt Jun 12, 1924, and then attended pilot training, but soon washed out and became a balloon pilot instead.

My Photos For This Unit
No Available Photos
37 Members Also There at Same Time
United States Army Air Service

Bertrandias, Victor Emile, Maj Gen, (1917-1955) [Other Service Rank]
Eielson, Carl Benjamin, 1st Lt M27 M 0273 [Other Service Rank]
Hooe, Roy W., MSgt, (1920-1950) [Other Service Rank]
Kelly, Oakley George, Col, (1917-1948) M27 M 0273 [Other Service Rank]
Macready, John Arthur, Col, (1917-1948) [Other Service Rank]
McChord, William Caldwell, Col, (1907-1937) [Other Service Rank]
Mitchell, William Lendrum, Maj Gen, (1898-1926) M27 M 0273 [Other Service Rank]
Perrin, Elmer Daniel, Lt Col, (1917-1941) [Other Service Rank]
Robins, Augustine Warner, Brig Gen, (1904-1940) [Other Service Rank]
Waller, Alfred Evans, Maj [Other Service Rank]
Patrick, Mason Mathews, Maj Gen, (1882-1927) Major General
Hensley, William Nicholas, Col, (1901-1929) Colonel
Andrews, Frank Maxwell, Lt Gen, (1902-1943) Major
Carberry, Joseph Eugene, Lt Col, (1914-1924) M27 M 0273 Major
Hale, Willis Henry, Maj Gen, (1917-1952) Major
Hickam, Horace Meek, Lt Col, (1904-1934) M21 M 2140 Major
Westover, Oscar M., Maj Gen, (1901-1938) M27 M 0273 Major
Kepner, William Ellsworth, Lt Gen, (1909-1953) M27 M 0273 Captain
Ladd, Arthur K., Maj, (1917-1935) M77 M 0770 Captain
McClellan, Hezekiah, Maj, (1917-1936) Captain
Skeel, Burt Eugene, Capt, (1917-1924) 01 Captain
Albrook, Frank Potter, 1st Lt, (1921-1924) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Albrook, Frank Potter, 1st Lt, (1921-1924) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Aldrin, Edwin Eugene, Col, (1917-1956) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Anderson, Orvil Arson, Maj Gen, (1917-1951) First Lieutenant
Barksdale, Eugene Hoy, 1st Lt, (1918-1926) First Lieutenant
Brookley, Wendell Holsworth, Capt, (1917-1934) First Lieutenant
Cannon, John Kenneth, Gen, (1917-1954) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Chennault, Claire Lee, Lt Gen, (1917-1945) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Doolittle, James Harold, Gen, (1917-1959) M77 M 0770 First Lieutenant
Foster, Arthur Lee, 1st Lt, (1917-1925) M77 M 0770 First Lieutenant
Griffiss, Townsend E. T. E., Lt Col, (1918-1942) M10 M 1055 First Lieutenant
Howard, Charles Harold, Capt, (1918-1936) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Minter, Hugh Cromer, 1st Lt, (1918-1932) First Lieutenant
Monthan, Oscar, 1st Lt, (1917-1924) M33 M 0330 First Lieutenant
Ramey, Howard Knox, Brig Gen, (1917-1943) First Lieutenant
Tyndall, Frank Benjamin, 1st Lt, (1916-1930) First Lieutenant
Emmons, Delos Carleton, Lt Gen, (1909-1948) Second Lieutenant

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