Jerstad -- Maj John L Jerstad

  • By

 

John Jerstad enlisted as an aviation cadet at Milwaukee, Wisc., July 12, 1941, and trained at Ontario, Calif., and Luke Field, Ariz. He was commissioned Feb. 6, 1942, and served with the 98th and 93rd Bomb Groups at Barksdale Field, La. In Oct. 1942, he went to Europe with the 93rd and flew B-24s with the 328th Bomb Squadron, as a captain. He was promoted to major in April 1943, and next month was assigned to HQ 2nd Bomb Wing.

Although he had completed more than his tour of missions and was no longer directly connected with the 93rd Bomb Group, he volunteered to lead the formation in the daring low-level attack against the enemy oil refineries at Ploesti on Aug. 1.

A short distance from the target, Maj. Jerstad's bomber was badly damaged by enemy ground fire. He proceeded to the target but, after the bombs were released, the fire in the plane became so intense that further progress was impossible and he crashed in the target area. For this heroic deed he received the Medal of Honor.

Part of the citation follows: "Three miles from the target his airplane was hit, badly damaged, and set on fire. Ignoring the fact that he was flying over a field suitable for a forced landing, he kept on course. After the bombs were released on the target, the fire in his ship became so intense as to make further progress impossible and he crashed into the target area. By his voluntary acceptance of a mission he knew was extremely hazardous, and his acceptance of an intrepid course of action at the risk of life over and above the call of duty, Major. Jerstad set an example of heroism which will be an inspiration to the Armed Forces of the United States."

In addition to the nation's top award Jerstad also received the Silver Star and four Air Medals.

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