Pucket -- 1st Lt Donald D Pucket

Medal of Honor recipient, WWII

Medal of Honor recipient, WWII

 

Donald Pucket enlisted at Denver, Colo., Nov. 25, 1942, and took pilot training at Muskogee, Okla Strother Army Air Field, Kan., and Altus, Okla. He graduated from advanced two-engine school in October 1943, and commissioned a second lieutenant. He took transition training at Liberal, Kan. He trained with the 470th Bomb Group's 803rd Squadron at Tonopah, Nev., served briefly at Hamilton Field, Calif., and went to Europe in April 1944, as a B-24 bomber pilot with the 98th Bomb Group's 343rd Squadron.

He was promoted to first lieutenant in June and gave his life the next month, July 9, during a highly effective attack against vital oil installations in Ploesti, Romania.  For this he earned the Medal of Honor. In part the citation states: "Just after 'bombs away' the plane received heavy and direct hits from anti aircraft fire. One crew member was instantly killed and six others severely wounded. The airplane was badly damaged; two engines were knocked out, the control cables cut, the oxygen system on fire, and the bomb bay flooded with gas and hydraulic fluid. Regaining control of his crippled plane, Lieutenant Pucket turned its direction over to the copilot. He calmed the crew, administered first aid, and surveyed the damage. Finding the bomb-bay doors jammed, he used the hand crank to open them to allow the gas to escape. He jettisoned all guns and equipment, but the plane continued to lose altitude rapidly. Realizing that it would be impossible to reach friendly territory, he ordered that the aircraft be abandoned. When three of the crew were found to be suffering from such crippling wounds and shock that they were unable to comply with his order, he urged the others to jump. Ignoring their entreaties to follow, he refused to abandon his badly wounded comrades and was last seen fighting to regain control of the flaming airplane. A few moments later the bomber crashed on a mountainside. Lieutenant Pucket, unhesitatingly and with supreme sacrifice, gave his life in his courageous attempt to save the lives of three others."

See the
full citation at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.