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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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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  1926-1930, United States Army Air Corps (USAAC)

First Lieutenant
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July / 1926
To Month/Year
- / 1930
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United States
 United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) Details

United States Army Air Corps (USAAC)
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the military aviation arm of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. The statutory administrative forerunner of the United States Air Force, it was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926 and part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps was the immediate predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), established on 20 June 1941. Although discontinued as an administrative echelon during World War II, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force. The Air Corps was renamed by the United States Congress largely as a compromise between the advocates of a separate air arm and those of the traditionalist Army high command who viewed the aviation arm as an auxiliary branch to support the ground forces. Although its members worked to promote the concept of air power and an autonomous air force between the years between the world wars, its primary purpose by Army policy remained support of ground forces rather than independent operations. On 1 March 1935, still struggling with the issue of a separate air arm, the Army activated the General Headquarters Air Force for centralized control of aviation combat units within the continental United States, separate from but coordinate with the Air Corps. The separation of the Air Corps from control of its combat units caused problems of unity of command that became more acute as the Air Corps enlarged in preparation for World War II. This was resolved by the creation of the Army Air Forces (AAF), making both organizations subordinate to the new higher echelon. The Air Corps ceased to have an administrative structure after 9 March 1942, but as "the permanent statutory organization of the air arm, and the principal component of the Army Air Forces," the overwhelming majority of personnel assigned to the AAF were members of the Air Corps.
HQ/ Command Element
Parent Unit
Major Commands
Created/Owned By
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Last Updated: Dec 13, 2012
Memories For This Unit

Other Memories
He was a balloon pilot.

My Photos For This Unit
No Available Photos
49 Members Also There at Same Time
United States Army Air Corps (USAAC)

Bertrandias, Victor Emile, Maj Gen, (1917-1955) [Other Service Rank]
Brown, Leroy F., MSgt, (1929-1958) [Other Service Rank]
Hill, Ployer Peter, Maj, (1918-1935) [Other Service Rank]
Hooe, Roy W., MSgt, (1920-1950) [Other Service Rank]
Kelly, Oakley George, Col, (1917-1948) [Other Service Rank]
Patrick, Mason Mathews, Maj Gen, (1882-1927) Major General
Westover, Oscar M., Maj Gen, (1901-1938) Major General
Robins, Augustine Warner, Brig Gen, (1904-1940) Brigadier General
Smith, Joseph, Lt Gen, (1923-1958) Brigadier General
Hale, Willis Henry, Maj Gen, (1917-1952) Colonel
Hensley, William Nicholas, Col, (1901-1929) Colonel
McChord, William Caldwell, Col, (1907-1937) Colonel
Andrews, Frank Maxwell, Lt Gen, (1902-1943) Lieutenant Colonel
Kirtland, Roy Carrington, Col, (1898-1941) Lieutenant Colonel
Anderson, Orvil Arson, Maj Gen, (1917-1951) Major
Emmons, Delos Carleton, Lt Gen, (1909-1948) Major
McClellan, Hezekiah, Maj, (1917-1936) Major
Bostrom, Frank Peter, Col, (1929-1960) First Lieutenant
Tyndall, Frank Benjamin, 1st Lt, (1916-1930) First Lieutenant
Forrest, Nathan Bedford, Brig Gen, (1928-1943) Second Lieutenant
Irvine, Clarence S., Lt Gen, (1921-1955) Second Lieutenant
O'Keefe, Richard Joseph, Maj Gen, (1930-1960) Second Lieutenant
Persons, John Williams, Maj Gen, (1917-1960) Second Lieutenant
Robey, Pearl Harvey, Maj Gen, (1930-1960) Second Lieutenant
Neal, Haskell E., Brig Gen, (1928-1964) Master Sergeant
McKee, Herschel Jessup, Lt Col, (1917-1958) Sergeant
Chapman, Leonard John, MSgt, (1928-1959) 00 [Other Service Rank]
Craw, Demas Thurlow, Col, (1918-1942) M27 M 0273 [Other Service Rank]
Andrews, Frank Maxwell, Lt Gen, (1902-1943) 200 2 Major General
MacDill, Leslie, Col, (1912-1938) M27 M 0273 Colonel
Hickam, Horace Meek, Lt Col, (1904-1934) M21 M 2120 Lieutenant Colonel
Perrin, Elmer Daniel, Lt Col, (1917-1941) M27 M 0273 Lieutenant Colonel
Smith, Frederic Harrison, Gen, (1929-1962) M10 M 1065 Lieutenant Colonel
Aldrin, Edwin Eugene, Col, (1917-1956) M27 M 0273 Major
Kepner, William Ellsworth, Lt Gen, (1909-1953) M27 M 0273 Major
Ladd, Arthur K., Maj, (1917-1935) M77 M 0770 Major
Moody, George Putnam, Maj, (1929-1941) M27 M 0273 Major
Waller, Alfred Evans, Maj M77 M 0770 Major
Brookley, Wendell Holsworth, Capt, (1917-1934) M27 M 0273 Captain
Cannon, John Kenneth, Gen, (1917-1954) 11 Captain
Howard, Charles Harold, Capt, (1918-1936) M27 M 0273 Captain
Losey, Robert Moffat, Capt, (1929-1940) 01 Captain
Johnson, Leon William, Gen, (1926-1965) M78 M 0784 First Lieutenant
Williams, Charles Linton, 1st Lt, (1918-1927) M27 M 0273 First Lieutenant
Forrest, Nathan Bedford, Brig Gen, (1928-1943) 11 Second Lieutenant
Weyland, Otto Paul, Gen, (1923-1959) M27 M 0273 Second Lieutenant
Ramey, Howard Knox, Brig Gen, (1917-1943) Lieutenant Colonel
McKee, William Fulton, Gen, (1929-1964) Major
Freeman, Richard Shafle, Capt, (1930-1941) Captain
Minter, Hugh Cromer, 1st Lt, (1918-1932) First Lieutenant
General Headquarters Air Force

McNarney, Joseph Taggart, Gen, (1915-1952) M93 M 9301 Major

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