William Edward Metzger Jnr MOH

b. 09/02/1922 Lima, Ohio. d. 09/11/1944 Saarbrucken, Germany.

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 09/11/1944 Saarbrucken, Germany.

William E Metzger MOH

Metzger joined the Army from his birthplace of Lima, Ohio in October 1942. By November 9, 1944, he was a second lieutenant serving as the co-pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress in the 729th Bomb Squadron, 452nd Bombardment Group. On that day, during a bombing mission over Saarbrücken, Germany, his plane was severely damaged and several of the crew were wounded by enemy fire. Knowing that the most seriously injured crewman needed immediate medical aid, and fearing that he would not receive such aid if he was dropped by parachute into enemy territory, Metzger and the pilot, Donald J. Gott, decided to try to fly the crippled aircraft back into Allied territory. Once reaching friendly airspace, Metzger chose to stay behind with the pilot and seriously injured man while the other crewmen parachuted to safety. He and the pilot attempted a crash landing, but the aircraft exploded before touching down, killing all three on board. For their actions, both Metzger and Gott were posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on May 16, 1945.



On a bombing run upon the marshaling yards at Saarbrucken, Germany, on 9 November 1944, a B-17 aircraft on which 2d Lt. Metzger was serving as copilot was seriously damaged by antiaircraft fire. Three of the aircraft’s engines were damaged beyond control and on fire; dangerous flames from the No. 4 engine were leaping back as far as the tail assembly. Flares in the cockpit were ingited and a fire roared therein which was further increased by free-flowing fluid from damaged hydraulic lines. The interphone system was rendered useless. In addition to these serious mechanical diffculties the engineer was wounded in the leg and the radio operator’s arm was severed below the elbow. Suffering from intense pain, despite the application of a tourniquet, the radio operator fell unconscious. Faced with the imminent explosion of his aircraft and death to his entire crew, mere seconds before bombs away on the target, 2d Lt. Metzger and his pilot conferred. Something had to be done immediately to save the life of the wounded radio operator. The lack of a static line and the thought that his unconscious body striking the ground in unknown territory would not bring immediate medical attention forced a quick decision. Second Lt. Metzger and his pilot decided to fly the flaming aircraft to friendly territory and then attempt to crash land. Bombs were released on the target and the crippled aircraft proceeded along to Allied-controlled territory. When that had been reached 2d Lt. Metzger personally informed all crewmembers to bail out upon the suggestion of the pilot, 2d Lt. Metzger chose to remain with the pilot for the crash landing in order to assist him in this emergency. With only one normally functioning engine and with the danger of explosion much greater, the aircraft banked into an open field, and when it was at an altitude of 100 feet it exploded, crashed, exploded again, and then disintegrated. All three crewmembers were instantly killed. Second Lt. Metzger’s loyalty to his crew, his determination to accomplish the task set forth to him, and his deed of knowingly performing what may have been his last service to his country was an example of valor at its highest.