Pease -- Capt Harl Pease Jr
Published December 09, 2014
Harl Pease enlisted as a flying cadet at Boston, Mass. Sept. 23, 1939. He trained at Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Randolph and Kelly Fields, Texas., getting his commission and wings in June 1940. Serving with the famed 19th Bomb Group's 93rd Squadron at March Field, Calif., he flew a B-17 Flying Fortress in the first mass formation flight from Hamilton Field, Calif., to Hawaii in May 1941, and was awarded the Air Medal for this operation.
Pease returned to the United States and participated in similar flights from Albuquerque, N.M. to Clark Field in the Philippine Islands in October and November 1941, and was promoted to first lieutenant. In March 1942, he was transferred to Australia and assigned to help handle evacuees from Japan
He was promoted to captain in July and on Aug. 6-7 flew B-17 missions against the enemy entrenched at New Britain which earned him the Metal of Honor, but also cost him his life. On Aug. 6 his bomber lost an engine near Rabaul and he was forced to return to his base in Australia. He was not scheduled for next day's mission and all serviceable planes had crews assigned. He located a crippled bomber, somehow got it in shape, and with a volunteer crew, joined the big mission against the enemy-held airdrome near Rabaul. With only three hours rest, he managed, by skillful flying, to slip his unserviceable bomber in its position in the group. The Medal of Honor citation reads, in part: "...When the formation was intercepted by about 30 enemy fighter airplanes before reaching the target, Captain Pease, on the wing which bore the brunt of the hostile attack, by gallant action and the accurate shooting by his crew, succeeded in destroying several Zeros before dropping his bombs on the hostile base as planned. The fight with the enemy pursuit lasted 25 minutes until the group dived into cloud cover. After leaving the target, Captain Pease's aircraft fell behind the balance of the group . . . and the enemy pursuit succeeded in igniting one of his bomb-bay tanks. He was seen to drop the flaming tank. The airplane and crew did not return to base. In voluntarily performing this mission Captain Pease contributed materially to the success of the group, and displayed high devotion to duty, valor, and complete contempt for personal danger."
On Sept. 7, 1957, the air base at Portsmouth, N.H., was named Pease AFB in his honor.
See the full citation at the Congressional Medal of Honor Society website.