Lawley, William Robert, Jr., Col

Deceased
 
 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
M 1091-Pilot, B-17
Last AFSC Group
USAAF
Primary Unit
1943-1944, M 1091, 305th Bombardment Group, Heavy
Service Years
1942 - 1972
Foreign Language(s)
Portuguese-Brazilian
Colonel

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

12 kb

Home State
Alabama
Alabama
Year of Birth
1920
 
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland to remember Lawley, William Robert, Jr., 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
Leeds(birth), Birmingham(home of record), Alabama
Last Address
Montgomery, Alabama

Date of Passing
May 29, 1999
 
Location of Interment
Greenwood Cemetery - Montgomery, Alabama
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

Air Force Commander Air Force Retired


 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal




 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Details of service
William Lawley graduated from high school in his hometown in 1938, enlisted in August 1942, for flying training, and got his wings and commission at Altus, Oklahoma, in April 1943. He went to Europe that November as a B-17 pilot with the 364th Bomb Squadron.
1st Lt. Lawley was on his 10th mission over Germany when the incident occurred wherein he was awarded the Medal of Honor. Flying a new B-17G (42-38109) with the 364th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy), 305th Bombardment Group, 8th Air Force, 1st Air Division, stationed at RAF Chelveston, Northamptonshire, England (USAAF Station 105). He flew 4 more missions over Germany.
He returned to the United States in September 1944, serving as a public relations officer at Hendricks Field, Florida.  Promoted to captain in January 1945, he completed the public relations course at Craig Field, Alabama and the Air Tactical School at Tyndall AFB, Florida, serving during part of this time as aide to Gen. Muir S. Fairchild at Maxwell Field Alabama.  He then went to HQ USAF in Washington as administrative assistant to Maj. Gen. David M. Schlatter in a special weapons assignment, with promotion to major in August 1949.
Major Lawley, in February 1950, held special assignments to the CG of ARDC, completing the Navy Language School at Fort Myer, Virginia, and the Strategic Intelligence School in Washington, D.C.. He then went to Brazil, with promotion to lieutenant colonel, as Assistant Air Attache. He served until 1954. Coming home, he attended the Air Command and Staff School at Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and on graduation was assigned as commander of the 55th Air Refueling~ Squadron at Forbes AFB, Kansas.  He stayed at Forbes as Aircrew Maintenance Staff Officer for the 21st Air Division, as Deputy Base Commander, and as Deputy Vice Commander of the 815th Combat Support Group.
He was promoted to colonel March 27, 1959. In January 1963, he became Assistant Phase Chief. Director of Curricular, at the Air War College at Maxwell AFB.
He died from illness in 1999.
His MOH citation:

Awarded for actions during World War II

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Air Corps) William Robert Lawley, Jr., United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action above and beyond the call of duty, 20 February 1944, while serving as pilot of a B-17 aircraft in the 364th Bombardment Squadron, 305th Bombardment Group (H), Eighth Air Force, on a heavy bombardment mission over enemy-occupied continental Europe. Coming off the target he was attacked by approximately 20 enemy fighters, shot out of formation, and his plane severely crippled. Eight crewmembers were wounded, the copilot was killed by a 20-mm shell. One engine was on fire, the controls shot away, and First Lieutenant Lawley seriously and painfully wounded about the face. Forcing the copilot's body off the controls, he brought the plane out of a steep dive, flying with his left hand only. Blood covered the instruments and windshield and visibility was impossible. With a full bomb load the plane was difficult to maneuver and bombs could not be released because the racks were frozen. After the order to bail out had been given, one of the waist gunners informed the pilot that two crewmembers were so severely wounded that it would be impossible for them to bail out. With the fire in the engine spreading, the danger of an explosion was imminent. Because of the helpless condition of his wounded crewmembers First Lieutenant Lawley elected to remain with the ship and bring them to safety if it was humanly possible, giving the other crewmembers the option of bailing out. Enemy fighters again attacked but by using masterful evasive action he managed to lose them. One engine again caught on fire and was extinguished by skillful flying. First Lieutenant Lawley remained at his post, refusing first aid until he collapsed from sheer exhaustion caused by loss of blood, shock, and the energy he had expended in keeping control of his plane. He was revived by the bombardier and again took over the controls. Coming over the English coast one engine ran out of gasoline and had to be feathered. Another engine started to burn and continued to do so until a successful crash landing was made on a small fighter base. Through his heroism and exceptional flying skill, First Lieutenant Lawley rendered outstanding distinguished and valorous service to our Nation.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 64, August 8, 1944

Action Date: February 20, 1944

Service: Army Air Forces

Rank: First Lieutenant

Company: 364th Bombardment Squadron

Regiment: 305th Bombardment Group (H)

Division: 8th Air Force




   
Other Comments:
Notes/Links:
http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM3RG4_Colonel_William_R_Lawley_Jr
http://www.af.mil/information/heritage/person.asp?dec=&pid=123228199
http://www.au.af.mil/au/goe/eagle_bios/1986/lawley_1986.asp http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7133527
Book: "Masters of the Air" by Donald Miller, Simon & Schuster, 2006
http://usaaf.com/8thaf/bomber/305bg.HTM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHnsBDDa2-c (video about incident) 
 
Profile originally created by Skip Kimbrow




   
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World War II
Start Year
1939
End Year
1945

Description
Overview of World War II 

World War II killed more people, involved more nations, and cost more money than any other war in history. Altogether, 70 million people served in the armed forces during the war, and 17 million combatants died. Civilian deaths were ever greater. At least 19 million Soviet civilians, 10 million Chinese, and 6 million European Jews lost their lives during the war.

World War II was truly a global war. Some 70 nations took part in the conflict, and fighting took place on the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe, as well as on the high seas. Entire societies participated as soldiers or as war workers, while others were persecuted as victims of occupation and mass murder.

World War II cost the United States a million causalities and nearly 400,000 deaths. In both domestic and foreign affairs, its consequences were far-reaching. It ended the Depression, brought millions of married women into the workforce, initiated sweeping changes in the lives of the nation's minority groups, and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life.

The War at Home & Abroad

On September 1, 1939, World War II started when Germany invaded Poland. By November 1942, the Axis powers controlled territory from Norway to North Africa and from France to the Soviet Union. After defeating the Axis in North Africa in May 1941, the United States and its Allies invaded Sicily in July 1943 and forced Italy to surrender in September. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the Allies landed in Northern France. In December, a German counteroffensive (the Battle of the Bulge) failed. Germany surrendered in May 1945.

The United States entered the war following a surprise attack by Japan on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Hawaii. The United States and its Allies halted Japanese expansion at the Battle of Midway in June 1942 and in other campaigns in the South Pacific. From 1943 to August 1945, the Allies hopped from island to island across the Central Pacific and also battled the Japanese in China, Burma, and India. Japan agreed to surrender on August 14, 1945 after the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Consequences:

1. The war ended Depression unemployment and dramatically expanded government's presence in American life. It led the federal government to create a War Production Board to oversee conversion to a wartime economy and the Office of Price Administration to set prices on many items and to supervise a rationing system.

2. During the war, African Americans, women, and Mexican Americans founded new opportunities in industry. But Japanese Americans living on the Pacific coast were relocated from their homes and placed in internment camps.

The Dawn of the Atomic Age

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter to President Roosevelt, warning him that the Nazis might be able to build an atomic bomb. On December 2, 1942, Enrico Fermi, an Italian refugee, produced the first self-sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction in Chicago.

To ensure that the United States developed a bomb before Nazi Germany did, the federal government started the secret $2 billion Manhattan Project. On July 16, 1945, in the New Mexico desert near Alamogordo, the Manhattan Project's scientists exploded the first atomic bomb.

It was during the Potsdam negotiations that President Harry Truman learned that American scientists had tested the first atomic bomb. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay, a B-29 Superfortress, released an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Between 80,000 and 140,000 people were killed or fatally wounded. Three days later, a second bomb fell on Nagasaki. About 35,000 people were killed. The following day Japan sued for peace.

President Truman's defenders argued that the bombs ended the war quickly, avoiding the necessity of a costly invasion and the probable loss of tens of thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Japanese lives. His critics argued that the war might have ended even without the atomic bombings. They maintained that the Japanese economy would have been strangled by a continued naval blockade, and that Japan could have been forced to surrender by conventional firebombing or by a demonstration of the atomic bomb's power.

The unleashing of nuclear power during World War II generated hope of a cheap and abundant source of energy, but it also produced anxiety among large numbers of people in the United States and around the world.
   
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Year
1942
To Year
1945
 
Last Updated:
Mar 3, 2012
   
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  5047 Also There at This Battle:
  • Adair, William, Sgt, (1943-1946)
  • Adams, Billy H., Capt, (1944-1970)
  • Adcock, David, 1st Lt, (1942-1945)
  • Agin, Thomas, SSgt, (1942-1949)
  • Ainsworth, John, Capt, (1942-1946)
  • Allen, George, Cpl, (1944-1946)
  • Allen, Herman Fredrick, Col, (1942-1945)
  • Allen, William Harry, Maj, (1942-1963)
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