Castle -- BG Frederick Walker Castle


Frederick Castle was graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in June 1930, after serving two years in the New Jersey National Guard. He was detailed immediately to the Air Corps for flying training which he took at March Field, Calif., and Kelly Field, Texas, getting his wings in October 1931.

He served as a pilot and assistant operations officer with the 17th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field Mich., until February 1934, when he resigned and returned to civilian life, holding reserve status with the New York National Guard. Castle re-entered active service in January 1942, as a captain, with promotion to major in March and to lieutenant colonel in September. He was one of eight officers selected to accompany Maj. Gen. Ira C. Eaker to England to form the 8th Air Force.

Promoted to colonel in January 1943, General Castle took command of the 94th Bomb Group that June and in April 1944, became commander of the 4th Combat Bomb Wing. He led many combat missions, including important ones to Regensburg and in November was promoted to brigadier general.

On Dec. 24, on his 30th bombing mission, he was killed while leading an air division of B-17s over Liege, Belgium. En route to the target his plane lost an engine, forcing him to drop from the lead of the formation. His plane was immediately attacked by German fighters, but General Castle refused to jettison his bombs, to gain speed, since he was flying over friendly troops on the ground below. All of the crew except Castle and the pilot were able to escape before the plane exploded. The Medal of Honor citation reads, in part: "...Repeated attacks started fires in two engines... realizing the hopelessness of the situation the bail-out order was given. Without regard for his personal safety he gallantly remained at the controls to afford other crew members an opportunity to escape. Still another attack exploded gasoline tanks. . .and the bomber plunged earthward, carrying General Castle to his death. His intrepidity and willing sacrifice of his life to save members of the crew were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service."

Castle also earned the Silver Star, Legion of .Merit, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Air Medals. Merced Army Air Field, Calif., was redesignated Castle Field in his honor on Jan. 17, 1946.

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