b. 20/11/1908 Woodruff, Kansas. d. 14/11/1942 Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 10/05 – 14/11/1942 Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
Harold William Bauer was born in Woodruff, Kansas on November 20, 1908 and grew up in North Platte, Nebraska. He was the son of Volga German immigrants and had two brothers and two sisters. In high school, he played football, track and baseball.
He entered the Naval Academy in 1926 and was appointed a Marine second lieutenant upon graduation in 1930. Bauer’s two younger brothers also followed him into the Academy. Following his commissioning, Bauer attended the Officers Basic School at Quantico, Virginia. He was then assigned as a company officer with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines at Quantico.
In 1932, he became assistant basketball and lacrosse coach at the Naval Academy and an instructor in marksmanship, until his assignment to the San Diego Naval Base, where he was the Assistant Range Officer. He was promoted to first lieutenant on May 29, 1934.
Bauer was transferred to the Naval Air Station San Diego, California, in June 1940 where he served as executive officer of Marine Fighting Squadron 221 (VMF-221). While stationed at San Diego, he participated in carrier group exercises on the USS Lexington (CV-2) and USS Saratoga (CV-3). The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor found Bauer and VMF-221 preparing to embark aboard the Saratoga for transport to Hawaii.
Transferred to Hawaii in February 1942, Bauer took command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Eleven, stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Ewa, and on March 1, 1942 commissioned and took command of Marine Fighting Squadron Two Twelve (VMF-212). Promoted to major on April 29, 1942, Bauer and VMF-212 were deployed to the South Pacific and were stationed at New Caledonia, and later Efate, Vanuatu. Although still the commanding officer of VMF-212, Bauer was also responsible for the operation of the airfield the squadron operated from and was utilized to select possible sites for additional airfields in the South Pacific. Bauer’s promotion to lieutenant colonel, after only three months as a major, was effective August 7.
On November 14, 1942 he was shot down by Japanese aircraft off Guadalcanal Island, and was seen to have successfully abandoned his plane. However, a subsequent search for him the next day found no trace of him, and he was officially declared dead on January 8, 1946. His Medal was awarded posthumously to his family by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on 11 May 1946. His name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and a cenotaph was erected for him in Swan Lake Memorial Gardens, Grain Valley, Jackson County, Missouri.
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous courage as Squadron Commander of Marine Fighting Squadron TWO TWELVE in the South Pacific Area during the period May 10 to November 14, 1942. Volunteering to pilot a fighter plane in defense of our positions on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Lieutenant Colonel Bauer participated in two air battles against enemy bombers and fighters outnumbering our force more than two-to-one, boldly engaged the enemy and destroyed one Japanese bomber in the engagement of September 28 and shot down four enemy fighter planes in flames on October 3 leaving a fifth smoking badly. After successfully leading twenty-six planes in the over-water ferry flight of more than six hundred miles on October 16, Lieutenant Colonel Bauer, while circling to land, sighted a squadron of enemy planes attacking the USS McFarland. Undaunted by the formidable opposition and with valor above and beyond the call of duty, he engaged the entire squadron and, although alone and his fuel supply nearly exhausted, fought his plane so brilliantly that four of the Japanese planes were destroyed before he was forced down by lack of fuel.
He was seen in the water in his Mae West water flotation device as light was fading. He did not appear to be seriously hurt. The following morning began days of intense searching by planes and Russell Island natives, but no further trace of him was found.
BODY NEVER RECOVERED – NAMED ON TABLETS OF THE MISSING AT THE MANILA AMERICAN CEMETERY, MANILA, PHILIPPINES.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE US MARINE CORPS, QUANTICO, VIRGINIA.