b. 31/10/1921 Huntington, West Virginia. d. 02/11/1944 USAAC Air Base, Rattlesden, England.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 02/11/1944 Merseburg, Germany.
Femoyer was born on Oct. 31, 1921, in Huntington, West Virginia, the eldest of two children. He was a dedicated Boy Scout and became one of only a few Medal of Honor recipients to have attained the rank of Eagle Scout.
According to the West Virginia Veterans Memorial, Femoyer was a good student and tennis player who attended Marshall College in Huntington, West Virginia, before transferring to Virginia Tech in 1940 to study civil engineering. About a year later, the U.S. joined World War II. Femoyer signed up for the Enlisted Reserve Corps on Nov. 11, 1942, and continued to attend college until he was called to active duty with the Army Air Corps in February 1943.
Femoyer was an aviation cadet after basic training, but he failed his initial attempt to become a pilot in July 1943. After a recommendation for reclassification and two more training courses in Florida and Louisiana, he finally graduated in June 1944 with his pilot’s wings. The 22-year-old was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned the job of navigator.
In September 1944, Femoyer deployed to England where he joined the 447th Bomb Group’s 711th Squadron. He was on his fifth mission when he was put to the ultimate test. On Nov. 2, 1944, Femoyer and his crew were among hundreds of bombers sent to attack an oil refinery outside Merseburg, Germany, one of the most heavily defended targets in the country.
As Femoyer’s B-17 Flying Fortress neared its target, three enemy antiaircraft shells hit the plane. It was seriously damaged, and Femoyer was thrown from his seat to the floor. He suffered serious wounds to his side and back from shell fragments. He’d lost a lot of blood and was in great pain, but he refused an injection of morphine and any painkillers offered to him. As the crew’s navigator, Femoyer knew that if he didn’t keep his head clear, he wouldn’t be able to direct the plane out of the line of fire to save his fellow airmen. Unfortunately, though, he couldn’t get up from the floor, so he had to have his comrades prop him up so he could see his charts and navigation instruments. For the next two and a half hours, while fighting unconsciousness and sitting in a pool of his own blood, Femoyer directed his pilots through a gauntlet of enemy flak positions along the route home. They flew more than 500 miles to their airfield at Royal Air Force Rattlesden, England, without suffering any further damage.
After they landed, Femoyer finally gave in and was given a sedative for his wounds. Sadly, he died shortly after being moved from the plane. Femoyer’s body was returned to Florida where his parents had moved. He is interred at Greenlawn Cemetery in Jacksonville. On May 9, 1945, his parents received his Medal of Honor from an Army Air Forces major general in a small private ceremony.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty near Merseburg, Germany, on 2 November 1944. While on a mission, the bomber, of which 2d Lt. Femoyer was the navigator, was struck by 3 enemy antiaircraft shells. The plane suffered serious damage and 2d Lt. Femoyer was severely wounded in the side and back by shell fragments which penetrated his body. In spite of extreme pain and great loss of blood he refused an offered injection of morphine. He was determined to keep his mental faculties clear in order that he might direct his plane out of danger and so save his comrades. Not being able to arise from the floor, he asked to be propped up in order to enable him to see his charts and instruments. He successfully directed the navigation of his lone bomber for 2 1/2 hours so well it avoided enemy flak and returned to the field without further damage. Only when the plane had arrived in the safe area over the English Channel did he feel that he had accomplished his objective; then, and only then, he permitted an injection of a sedative. He died shortly after being removed from the plane.
BURIAL LOCATION: GREENLAWN CEMETERY, JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA.
SECTION 8, LOT 2
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.